Go to enough pop concerts and certain parts of the show will start to annoy you.
For instance, pretty much every pop star incorporates the state flag of whatever city they're in into the set, usually to resounding, pandering applause. They throw unrealistic superlatives to the audience, saying they're the "best-looking" or simply the "best" audience they've ever seen.
Finally, there's the motivational speech. These tend to go one of two ways. It's usually affirming ("You're not damaged goods!") or inspiring ("Never give up on your dreams!").
Hip-hop stars don't usually go into these sorts of speeches, but one of the performers at Ak-Chin Pavilion last night did. Out of Jhene Aiko, Kevin Gates, Wiz Khalifa, and Snoop Dogg, only one of them told the audience members they should follow their dreams.
Yup, it was Kevin "I Don't Get Tired" Gates, he of the cousin-boning, dog-fellatio-encouraging antics. After performing his hit "2 Phones," Gates paused as his set was about to close and gazed out upon the audience and proffered these words of wisdom:
"No one will ever believe in your plan until your plan becomes successful," the aspiring motivational speaker told the crowd. "You might be doing something in life that makes you unhappy because your heart says you should be doing something else."
Truly inspiring, T-Swift-worthy words. Gates left the stage, setting the stage for the two co-headliners, Snoop and Wiz. Called the High Road Tour, there's one plant, one drug on these rappers' minds, and it was everywhere last night. From the skunky clouds drifting above the crowd to the near-pornographic close-ups of plants shown on the screens behind the stage, marijuana was everywhere. The night was a celebration of weed, anthem after anthem encouraging the joyous partaking of the devil's herb.
The two rappers performed songs individually for two or three songs at once before performing the last few songs of the set together. Snoop came out and performed part of the timeless Dr. Dre classic, "The Next Episode," (which fittingly ends with the exhortation to "smoke weed every day"), leading into Wiz Khalifa's first song of the night, "Bake Sale." The bro-anthem "We Dem Boyz" followed.
The rappers swapped leads throughout the night. Snoop came out and did a "when I say 'sticky,' you say 'icky'" call-and-response. Both men inhaled joints lazily throughout the night, even sharing the joint with a female audience member at one point. The crowd went as wild for Snoop's classic tracks like "Gin & Juice" as they did for Wiz Khalifa's recent mega-hits. Joints were smoked in honor of Eazy-E and Tupac. At one point, a giant prop bong that must have been at least 20 feet tall appeared on stage, and moments later was smoking like a chimney. Canoe-sized inflatable joints floated through the crowd like beach balls as the two stars on stage rapped verses one after the other. Songs like "This Weed Iz Mine" and "French Inhale," which feature both rappers, fit into the set like a slide into a bong.
There was no pretense, no politics except "legalize it." It was a refreshing, stupid-fun celebration of friendship, drugs, and partying.
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Last Night: Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa at Ak-Chin Pavilion
Personal Bias: I wasn't even supposed to be there last night.
Hat's off: Snoop Dogg is a goddamn legend. Where all his peers are lounging comfortably in their mansions, Snoop is everywhere — selling tens of thousands of tickets headlining concerts with stars half his age, somehow finding pathways into the cultural conversation.
Random Notebook Dump: "How can they just get away with smoking that much weed on stage? Is that legal? Is the weed fake? Good lord, am I a Snoop Dogg weed truther?"