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Sacramento gets taken to the ‘Dogg Pound’

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The sun was still hanging lazily in the sky as an enormous crowd filed into Midtown’s cozy Ace of Spades venue to see hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg Friday evening. The famed indo-puffing, gin and juice-drinking rap veteran is no stranger to the Sacramento area, as just only seven months ago, the "Doggfather" performed at UC Davis’ Freeborn Hall to an enthusiastic college crowd.

Now, hot off the heels of his 11th studio album, Doggumentary (which debuted at No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard 200), the rapper returned to show Sacramento he’s still one of hip-hop’s best in the game.

The small venue filled up quickly, with a diverse crowd ranging from young to old, longtime fans to curious new fans. One notable attendee was Sacramento native Abe Cunningham, drummer for Sacramento-based band the Deftones.

Local act Divided Allegiance kicked off the evening with an Insane Clown Posse-inspired set, complete with face paint and guttural rap/rock screams. Placerville native Optimiztiq delivered an impressive display of lyrical prowess, pumping the crowd up even more, getting serious love from other local acts sharing the stage that night.

Following act Quette Daddie of Memphis, Tenn., commented on Optimiztiq’s performance, "Y’all keep an eye out for this one right here. He’s a white MC from the country kickin’ ass." Sacramento heavyweight Bueno kept things alive with an energetic set accompanied by live drums, bass and keyboards, paying tribute to fallen hip-hop artists 2Pac, Eazy-E and Mac Dre.

After an intermission filled with classic ’90s hip-hop anthems like Ice Cube’s "Today Was a Good Day" and Cypress Hill’s "Stoned Is the Way of the Walk," the lights dimmed and a sea of digital cameras stood poised to get a snapshot of the guest of honor.

"Y’all smoke weed?" boomed a voice across the small venue. Guests roared in approval as the accompanying DJs on stage sparked a blunt and Snoop Dogg sauntered on stage and fired into the Doggystyle classics "Tha Shiznit" and "Gin and Juice," as well as the Dr. Dre produced hits "The Next Episode" and "Nuthin’ but A ‘G’ Thang."

The crowd responded enthusiastically to Snoop Dogg’s set, complete with Dogg Pound mascot Nasty Dogg dancing around the stage with the rapper, flanked by scantily clad dancers on each side.

"What do we do every day?" asked the rapper after performing "The Next Episode," prompting the crowd to yell back Nate Dogg’s line, "Smoke weed every day!"

Paying tribute to longtime friend and collaborator Nate Dogg, who passed away in March of this year from complications from a stroke, Snoop Dogg held a moment of silence before breaking into "Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None).” Easily one of Nate Dogg’s most memorable performances off the classic album Doggystyle Snoop delivered Nate Dogg’s verse with whimsical fun and ease, while Dogg Pound member Kurupt accompanied to a frenzied sea of concert attendees young and old dancing and swaying to the booming, bass-heavy rhythms.

With a career spanning 20 years of critically acclaimed albums, collaborations and singles, as well as ventures into acting and endorsements, there’s no doubt Snoop is one of the most recognizable faces in hip-hop and pop culture. Friday evening, however, Snoop let everyone in attendance know that, like a fine wine, he only gets better with age.

"What’s my name?" asked the rapper to the packed venue. The crowd screamed in unison, securing his place in Sacramento fans’ hearts and headphones as a West Coast legend for many more years to come.

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