A name like Snoop Dogg's Funk n Soul Extravaganza, which the rapper presented on Saturday night at South By Southwest, has the sound of something out of the norm. But in truth the show didn't differ a great deal from what Snoop usually offers when he hits the stage -- which was just fine with the crowd who trooped to Austin's Whitley building for the late-announced concert and exactly what Snoop intended it to be.
"I'm shooting… just to please the people in the crowd," he told Billboard.com after the Pepsi Max-sponsored night and a nearly 75-minute set that featured several collaborations with Mayer Hawthorne and guest appearances by Diddy and Warren G. "My mission is just to please the people who come out to support."
Mission accomplished, but there was something special about the pairing of Snoop and Hawthorne for this particular concert -- the first time they've ever worked on stage together. The singer remixed the rapper's "Gangsta Luv" last year, while Snoop guests on "I Can't Stop," a song for Hawthorne's forthcoming sophomore album. "I think we both just share a genuine love for classic soul music," said Hawthorne, who performed with his own band as well on Saturday and spent Snoop's set on stage, featured on performances of "Gin n Juice," "Beautiful" and, of course, "Gangsta Luv." "We really just connect on that level."
Saturday's show -- which was announced earlier in the week -- also carried a poignant air, coming just days after the death of Nate Dogg. Snoop and his crew sported memorial T-shirts and paid tribute to him a couple of times during the show, including a rendition of Nate Dogg's "Above the Rim" hit "Regulate" on which they were joined by original song collaborator Warren G and Diddy -- who were also part of the "Doggystyle" favorite "Aint No Fun." Snoop also memorialized Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., as is his custom during the show, but he said losing Nate Dogg was "a little more heart-wrenching."
"That's like my brother," Snoop explained. "Me and Nate were friends since 1986, so it's a little bit deeper… This is somebody who started with me. We dreamed the same dream and our dreams came true, and now he's no longer with us. So it's a little hard to deal with, but in the spirit of Nate Dogg we're dealing with it because we know he would want us to celebrate and have a good time. That's the spirit he possessed."
The rest of Snoop's set needle-dropped throughout his career, from early hits such as "Lodi Dodi" and "The Shiznit" to more recent fare like "Sexual Seduction," "I Wanna Rock" and "Wet." He also delivered the Dr. Dre collaborations "Next Episode" and "Kush" as well as a cover of House of Pain's "Jump Around," but he chose not to preview anything from his 11th solo album, "Doggumentary," which drops March 29.
Hawthorne and his band, the County, did preview one new song, "A Long Time," from his next album, which segued into a cover of the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes," alongside the singles "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out," Maybe So, Maybe No" and "I Wish it Would Rain." A CD-slinging, keytar-brandishing Dam-Funk opened the evening with an upbeat one-man production, though he complained at the end of the show of having inadequate time to sound check.