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SXSW fans get a whole lot of Snoop, no whiff of Trump controversy

Snoop Dogg performs at RIO on 6th St. during SXSW on March 16, 2017. (Tamir Kalifa/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The one thing rap superstar Snoop Dogg wasn’t interested in Thursday night at the Rio nightclub was courting controversy.

One wonders if the veteran party starter regretted the timing of President Donald Trump’s Twitter commentary earlier this week about the questionably controversial “Lavender” video. It happened just before Snoop was to hold a fairly high-profile event during South By Southwest with media partners Twitch, Reddit and his own Merry Jane marijuana-centric digital platform.

It was obvious from the drop on Thursday that the event was almost entirely about furthering Snoop’s brand.

From early performances by protégé acts Stix, Southern Playas, Beach City (Ladies) and October London, to a nearly two-hour marathon of long-form videos – think the extended video/film that accompanied “Murder Was The Case” in 1993 – that make up a chunk of Merry Jane’s content, the crowd was slowly boiled in all things Snoop ahead of his walking on the stage that was stocked with bottles of his Snoop’s Premium Nutrients plant food.

It’s worth noting that the “Lavender” video was not among the selection shown, and the rapper made no mention at all of the heat he’d received earlier in the week nor the support given by other entertainers unhappy with the Commander In Chief.

Instead, the main attraction of the night delivered a lean but tightly packed 40-minute set of material from throughout his 20-plus-year career. Hits like “Who Am I? What’s My Name?,” “Gin And Juice” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot” haven’t lessened in their crowd-pleasing impact, and the man behind them can cruise through a set like Thursday’s on muscle memory if he wanted.

Thankfully he was suitably engaged for the set, veering into crowd participation with a brief “Holler if you love…” tribute to departed rap heroes Eazy-E, Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, and getting the audience primed for St. Patrick’s Day with a brief interlude from House Of Pain’s “Jump Around.”

These kinds of sponsored content/new act introduction/superstar performer cocktail seem to be the house specialty for activations during SXSW now. Thursday’s bid at Rio was a tough swallow at first because of the sheer volume of branding and promotion involved. But the night’s star delivered the hits to give it the smooth finish it needed.


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