AUSTIN, Texas — South by Southwest was originally conceived as a platform for a wide array of unsigned bands and artists, but this year’s festival saw a legend on the lineup. Snoop Lion, the West Coast rap legend with a new name, new sound and new swag, headlined Viceland’s Lionfest: A Celebration of Reincarnated on Thursday night and, subsequently proved there is no substitute for experience.
Before the D-O-Double-G took the stage, fans were shown the trailer for “Reincarnated,” the documentary that captures his spiritual pilgrimage while in Jamaica, where he formed a bond with the Nyabinghi branch of the Rastafari movement. The Andy Capper-directed film hits selected theaters Friday (March 15) ahead of the Long Beach native’s much-anticipated reggae album, Reincarnated, slated to drop April 23.
An expert in calculated misdirection, the Doggfather emerged from backstage dressed in signature blue Dickies, backed by a live band, three gyrating dancers and his trusted mascot, Nasty Dogg. He began his performance with “Here Comes the King” and the Mavado-assisted “Lighters Up” from his upcoming LP.
The Chronic 2001 MC brought the house down with the reggae version of his Doggystyle hit “Gin & Juice.” Snoop then began to toggle back and forth from vintage Snoop — ” Nuthin’ But a G Thang,” “Let’s Get High” and “Bitch Please” — to new Snoop — “So Long” and “La La La.”
Snoop kept it in the family by bringing out his Tha Dogg Pound cohorts Daz and Kurupt to run through their collective hits, including “We Can Freak It.”
Snoop then dropped the patois singing for a rock and roll take on “Pump Pump” before blending funk and reggae for a wickedly fun rendering of “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” and taking time out to appreciate the ladies in the house with Konvicted’s “I Wanna Love You.”
Before ending his 90-minute set with a reggae-tinged “Drop It Like It’s Hot” from his seventh studio album, R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, and a crowd-assisted “Young, Wild & Free,” Snoop paused for an all-out House of Pain hype moment, covering “Jump” while the sweat-soaked fans bounded up and down on cue.