What were *you* doing on

by francine Hardaway on June 7, 2002

What were *you* doing on Tuesday night? Myself, I was kickin’ it at the Snoop Dogg concert. Ya shoulda been there, bro. Ya woulda been stunned.

There is a whole other “music” out there that those of us who are mired in the old culture never see. This music speaks to urban youth, especially to the disenfranchised. It expresses their lives and their attitudes and their anger. It tells the story of how kids from the ghetto become their own bosses, take control of their lives. It�s probably not a story most of us want to hear, and it�s not told in the most politically correct language. But if we want to understand what our kids are learning, we should probably be listening. In this spirit, I took my foster daughter, Amanda, to see her first concert.

Although the concert began at 8, the Dogg himself did not come on until 10:30. It takes about two hours to get the audience high enough and worked up enough to appreciate him.

The youthful audience, all colors, sizes and shapes, wanders aimlessly around the theatre during the opening acts, buying drinks and smoking pot. Nothing new here except the pot; at most concerts the audience arrives late and mills around through the opening acts. However, at most concerts, the kids get high first, before they go into the venue. How did I know they were smoking pot? It was everywhere in the air. No one made a pretense of hiding it. I come from an era in which if you brought a lighter to a concert, you could have been busted. Now, the legalization of marijuana would just codify what is already happening.

While we got in shape for the Dogg, two local rap groups, Ten Commandments and Poker Face, got to show the disaffected audience their stuff. The guys from Ten Commandments stomped lamely around the stage grabbing their private parts (or was it holding up their baggy pants?) and yelling into the mikes. I’m not sure the listeners understood one word of what they were saying, because they didn’t enunciate –at least not in a language I could understand — nor did they appear to realize how a microphone works, but they rapped with incredible energy. They were definitely pissed about something.

In between acts, the local hip-hop station’s DJs, two fat white guys in shorts, reminded us why we came: “Didja come ta see tha Dogg?”

More important: here at this concert there were *no* musicians and, by normal standards, no music. Not one single person, not even in the Doggy All Stars, plays a musical instrument. Instead, the rappers talk while a turntable-ist, or DJ, plays records that he starts and stops with his fingers. This is called, for obvious reasons, “scratching.” It produces a compelling sound and a hypnotic beat to which the rappers rap.

Finally, after an eternity during which I fought sleep, the Dogg himself came on. In case you have never seen him up close, Snoop Dogg (the artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg) is a tall, slender, black man with very carefully braided hair. He wore about ten pounds of gold chain around his neck, with a replica of a police badge as a pendant. He not only smoked dope on stage, he blew the smoke in the audience’s face and announced that he was high.

He travels with an entourage, the Doggy All Stars, that takes the stage with him, and –I guess — accompanies his raps.

Apparently, Snoop is in the middle of a trial for possession of marijuana during a tour in Ohio. One of the last living gangsta rappers (after the death of Tupac Sahkur and Notorious B.I.G.), Snoop was also accused of being an accomplice to a murder in 1995, which set his career back somewhat. In his biography (www.snoop-dogg.com), I found out that music had “saved him from a life of crime,” which I took to mean that now that he’s famous, he’s harder to convict of the crimes he continues to commit.

But as soon as he takes the stage he is charismatic. The audience snapped to attention, rose to its feet, then rose to stand on the chairs. They knew every word of every song, including the ones in which Snoop announces the purpose of women, which is to perform fellatio on men.

Half of the audience was female, and I asked my foster daughter how young women felt about these lyrics. “Oh, they don’t think it’s about them,” she said casually. “He’s singing about ho-s, not about us.” Whatever.

I think I understand. It certainly wasn’t about me, either, but I was really glad to be there.



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: