The High Road Tour
Feat. Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, & Kevin Gates
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 20, 2016
The artist formally known as Snoop Doggy Dogg is 44 years old. He was still a teenager when fate threw him into Dr. Dre's path, and the two created magic with the classic gangsta-rap albums The Chronic and Doggystyle. The tall, lanky and eternally high Doggfather has since experienced several downfalls, resurrections, and reincarnations to go along with his name changes (most recently as the reggae upstart Snoop Lion). The constant in his career is the high quality and quantity of his music, augmented by his vivacious personality.
You could say that someone like Snoop is a once in a-lifetime talent; that is, until Wiz Khalifa hit the scene six years ago with the smash hit "Black and Yellow." A combination of lyrical talent, comic timing, and weed smoke, Khalifa's music drew legions of fans intrigued by his genuine character and ability to create anthemic hits.
Which brings us to "The High Road Tour," a natural progression for both artists, whose bond is as thick as the smoke that surround them. The intro was projected onto the giant video screen onstage, which showed caricatures of the two superstars worrying about their "trees" supply for the road.
Snoop hit the stage to James Brown's "This Is a Man's World," sparking up while the crowd applauded in approval. With his signature gold mike in his other hand and Gucci shades mounted on his face, the Long Beach rapper hit the crowd with "The Next Episode." People crip-walked in the aisles and laughed along to every Snoopism.
Wiz alternated tracks with his mentor, dropping the colorful "Bake Sale" before unleashing his monster hit "We Dem Boyz." The Pittsburgh native has a mile-wide smile and contagious laugh, plus he's added a few muscles over the years to his previously skeletal frame.
Attending a show on this tour is a stroll through memory lane. Between Snoop's 25 years of hits and Khalifa's club anthems, hardly a track wasn't joined in by the crowd. A few exceptions were tracks from CoolAid, Snoop's most recent album. "Kush-ups" and "Point Seen Money Gone" are indeed catchy, but altogether not that great. Both the fans and myself were happy when he returned to his hits.
A tribute to the Notorious BIG and Tupac was met with the night's most rousing cheers, along with "G-Mix" remixes to Fat Joe's "All The Way Up" and "All I Do Is Win." Another highlights came when Wiz brought out Sossaman of Houston's Sauce Twinz for an excited take of "Off the Lot." Wiz also showed love for Devin Tha Dude, who was onstage as well.
The night ended with the Paul Walker tribute "See You Again" and "Young, Wild, & Free," about the only good thing to come from the Mac & Devin Go to High School movie. These two brothers are a generation apart in age, but close in spirit. They also have the lung capacity of Olympic swimmers, and are now capturing the heart of the hip-hop nation, one smoke-filled tour stop at a time.
So How Was the Opener? Kevin Gates is the real deal. Really, really! When I was in New Orleans recently, every Uber driver jammed his album nonstop and at high volume. The music hits you figuratively and literally, with a two-minute bass solo that shook the foundation of the venue and loosened a few of my fillings.
"Nobody will ever believe in your plan until your plan becomes successful!", he told the crowd. "Follow your heart!"
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A security guard was really feeling the set, and started bobbing and jumping up and down.
She was scolded by a supervisor, who shouted, "We don't dance!"
Girl...If you wanna dance, please continue to do so. Don't let anyone stop you!
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. You can follow his adventures on Instagram: @MarcoFromHouston.