Snoop Dogg / The Game / Flipsyde - Manchester Apollo - 14.2.05

Flipsyde and Piper head straight outta Oakland, California announcing you've got freedom of speech till your ass gets shot. It would all be so cliched if Flipsyde's all encompassing hip hop spirit wasn't so refreshing. Flanked by a live guitarist, bass player and DJ he mixes up flamenco flourishes, bashment beats and music hall piano motifs. Coming from the birthplace of the Black Panther Party has obviously had a profound effect on him as he says "This is a new national anthem for the soldiers. I'm sick of hearing other peoples shit" as he launches into a slow burning track with each mournful guitar solo sound tracking the struggle. Flipsyde sets the bar high from the start.

"Are you ready for real hip hop?" hollers The Game. In true bling style we reply with a display of mobile phones to show our appreciation. In 2005 though we're not sure quite what real hip hop is. Back in the day it was everything from Public Enemy to Run DMC. Nowadays it's anything that has Dre or Pharrel's hands over it, regardless of how sugar coated it is. Judging by tonight's crowd you'd be saying that hip hop speaks out to the white kids of suburbia rather than Black America.

There's one clear cut difference within the first 5 minutes of the Game's set. Four females dancers join the stage - low slung jeans and black casual t's. This is the sister hood and about as far removed from the degrading chauvinism of modern hip hop. It's the one thing in tonight's show which sets the Game apart from the rest of hip hop. Lyrically there's references to the Westside, Dre and Gin & Juice rhymed over a G-Funk soundtrack.

"This Is for all the fallen hip-hop legends - Tupac, Biggie, Jam Master Jay, Easy E - Raise your lighters or mobiles in the air", a role call for these icons of hip hop and a sad indication where sometime it all went wrong. From the sublime to the ridiculous as The Game encourages us to shout "Ja Rule can suck my dick. Ashanti can suck my dick. Irv Gotti can suck my dick. Murder Inc can suck my dick!!!" before the single "How We Do". The problem is we're not quite sure whether it's The Game's gone on the low-down and is in fact offering an open invitation to Ja Rule or whether it's part of the hip hop feud. Either way it will be available as a internet download soon enough.

12 years is a long time in hip hop. When you're hot, you're hot. When you're not, you hook up with Pharrel and deliver a bomb. Snoop Dogg's hard to classify: the lethargic chilled out don. a modern day blaxploitation porn flick legend or just simply The Dogg. Tonight serves as a retrospective which takes us from sensationalist headlines of "Kick This Evil B*stard Out" to the current court case of alleged rape. Snoops career has been bookmarked by so many court cases and so many accusations that it's easy to forget just how many tracks this guy has dropped. "Nuttin But A G Thang", "Whats My Name?", "Lodi Dodi", "Gin and Juice" come out from the back catalogue, but it's the newer tracks "Let's Get Blown" and "Drop It Like It's Hot" that really blow it up for the younger members of tonight's crowd.

Joined by a full band, the Snoopadelics, the Dogg really pulled out the stops from start to finish and delivered one of the best hip hop shows this country has ever seen. When you think that US stars used to see the UK as a dumping ground for a quick buck and a 30 minute show it takes a legend like Snoop to come over and show them how it's really done. 50 Cent and Eminem may be the one's with the frontcovers and the media coverage - it's Snoop that more than a decade on can still rock a crowd. Snoop, just don't leave it as long before you come back next time!!!

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride


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