DR. DRE, SNOOP DOGG, EMINEM and ICE CUBE, at the Molson Amphitheatre, July 4. Tickets: $65. Attendance: 16,000. Rating: NN Rating: NN
It's safe to say that the era of 10-minute hiphop shows dominated by threats to the sound man and and eventual mid-song walkoffs with the live mike dropped to the floor is over.
At exactly what moment during Tuesday's Molson Amphitheatre touchdown of the four-hour Up In Smoke tour that point became clear is less certain.
Perhaps it was when a 50-foot skull descended to the front of the stage and called the capacity crowd "motherfuckers," or when the technicians let off more pyro than a KISS concert, or when headliners Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre drove a fully operational 64 Impala low-rider out onstage. To hell with the ghetto. This was ghetto fabulous.
Up In Smoke is billed as the biggest hiphop tour of all time, and judging by the number of semis hauling props, you'd have to agree. It's also hardcore oldies night, and anyone made the least bit squeamish by harsh talk of bitches, faggots and why you can't make a ho a housewife need not apply.
Ice Cube started it off, and despite being the player most removed from the thug life, put on the tightest set. Twenty minutes of frantic three-way rhymes over malicious beats and Cube was out.
No such luck with Eminem. Though he was largely responsible for drawing the crowd of 16,000 mostly teenage, mostly white gangsta wannabes, the Detroit rapper failed to generate any momentum. Odd, but listening to someone rhyme poorly for 30 minutes about how misunderstood his first record was and why fame sucks isn't exactly a thrill.
The sour vibe was epitomized when the MC stopped his debut hit My Name Is... midway through, whining, "I never want to hear that song again." Most entertaining was Eminem's Spinal Tap-esque horror moment when the pair of giant hands at the side of the stage, with the middle fingers prominently raised, refused to inflate quick enough.
Snoop and Dr. Dre took no such chances. The duo opened their set with a soft-core porn movie in which the two get serviced by scantily clad women, go down to the weed spot and blow away a couple of thugs.
Subtlety was not a strong theme. The crew ran through their respective hits, brought out Eminem and Xzibit for a guest appearance and smoked joints that the crowd threw onstage.
By the time Dre, Snoop, Cube and MC Ren -- where's Yella? --previewed the forthcoming NWA reunion with a run through Chin Music, it was hard to tell where the spectacle ended and the music began. Perhaps that was for the best.
DR. DRE, SNOOP DOGG, EMINEM and ICE CUBE, at the Molson Amphitheatre, July 4. Tickets: $65. Attendance: 16,000. Rating: NNHiphop morals go Up In Smoke