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Wiz Khalifa & Snoop Dogg Blaze the Stage at Sunfest Story by Sheldon Robertson – Reggae Reflection Correspondent Photos and Feature by Empress K – Editor at Reggae Reflection
Any doubt that rappers are the new rock stars was cast aside by Wiz Khalifa’s stage image for his performance Thursday evening. Hip-hop’s hottest flavor sported Stars-and-Stripes pants a la Mick Jagger in the ‘70s, and rocked a bandana-adorned mike-stand like that of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. None the worse for a North Carolina weed-possession arrest two days earlier, Wiz commanded the festival’s main stage as a large youthful crowd responded enthusiastically to hits such as “5 o’clock”, originally recorded with T-Pain and Lily Allen. Next up was the ganja ode “Mary 3x” followed by “Blazin”, a reggae track that segued into the Bob Marley classic “Three Little Birds”. The young rapper’s band consisted of a DJ, a bassist and a drummer whose explosive breaks were showcased on tracks like “No Sleep”. Wiz had the crowd chanting along with “On My Level” and brought his well-received set to a conclusion with the single “Roll Up” from his 2011 album Rolling Papers.
Wiz Khalifa commanded the Main Stage
Jazz Legend Herbie Hancock Rocks It at Sunfest
If anyone could go up against two of the brightest stars in the hip-hop constellation, it’s this 72-year-old legendary keyboardist whose jazz career has spanned five decades. Accompanied by bass, guitar and drums, Herbie alternated between piano and synth, using a vocoder for the 1978 jazz-fusion track “Come Running To Me” to give his voice the original Autotune effect. Herbie also strapped on a keytar (i.e. a portable keyboard) to play his 1983 classic “Rockit” during the only encore done by any artist that night.
Snoop Dogg Tops the Night
So how do you follow a big hip-hop act like Wiz Khalifa? With a much bigger one, of course. And when you’re talking about a rap sensation with nearly twenty years in the game, no ordinary entrance will do. Fog machines flooded the stage while Snoop’s DJ played “Still D.R.E” . Next came classical choral music over which the keyboardist played live piano as a trio of dancers took the stage clad in fishnet stockings, corsets and knee-high boots. Finally, Dr. Dre’s former protégé came on wearing a green Bob Marley Rastaman Vibration tour jacket, darkers and a red, gold and green tam. Snoop also sported a gigantic piece of bling on one hand with his name in diamond-encrusted letters.
Snoop makes a grand entrance
As Nasty Dogg the dreadlocked dog mascot joined the dancers onstage, Snoop launched into a string of his biggest hits (“Nuthin But a G Thang”, “The Next Episode”, “Gin and Juice”) and also a cover of Fifty-Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” A less confident artist might have saved such popular tracks for later, but Snoop knew the massive audience, quite possibly the largest in Sunfest’s thirty-year history, wasn’t going anywhere. He took a seat for “I Wanna F*ck You” while the dancers encircled him with their best stripper moves, then later sang the chill synth track “Sensual Seduction”.
As his set rolled into its final leg, Snoop invited girls in the audience to dance on stage and a few dozen young females took him up on the offer. Next up was a cover of “JumpAround” so faithful, it sounded like Snoop was channeling Boston’s finest Irish rappers, House of Pain. Two more Snoop classics followed (“Drop It Like It’s Hot”, “Who Am I? (What’s My Name)” ) then Wiz Khalifa joined the West Coast rap veteran to perform their collaboration “Young, Wild & Free”.