Coachella 2012: Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Tupac hologram end Week 1
It's tempting to say up front that Tupac Shakur stole the show on Sunday night when his likeness appeared alongside Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre to cap off the first weekend of Coachella, but that would just be for a cheap laugh. Making a "cameo" as a hologram projected onto the stage and the jumbo screens above, the late Los Angeles rap icon was the least dynamic of the parade of rappers young and old who held the mike.
But in his defense, he was just a hologram.
Already in the set, Dr. Dre, who put Los Angeles rap on the map in the late 1980s when he and his peers in N.W.A burst out of Compton to help invent gangsta rap, had stood alongside his one-time protege Snoop Dogg (nee Snoop Doggy Dogg) to offer sing-along anthem after sing-along anthem, each one a 1990s ode to Southern California living and rapped in unison by tens of thousands.
They'd swapped hits to a crowd who grew up with them, and did so with 20 years of friendship and collaboration between them, so that when they traded lines it was like they were finishing each other's sentences. And, in a sense, they were: The 1991 classic "Deep Cover" was Dr. Dre's first post-N.W.A release and it featured Snoop's first-ever appearance on record.
It's hard sometimes to remember how strange and wily Snoop's first recorded rhymes were: they slithered through Dre's G-funk beats with a laid-back grace that was the polar opposite of the aggrieved New York style of the time as put forward by Public Enemy, LL Cool J and Brand Nubian. Snoop's flow was as immediately recognizable as Dre's beats, and it's one reason why he's remained relevant for two decades.
Those rhythms were at the center of the night, of course, and were highlighted through cameos that illustrated the breadth of Dre's sounds. Young weed-rapper Wiz Khalifa came out to join Snoop for "Young, Wild, and Free" -- and share a joint the size of a Sharpie -- and Compton lyricist and MC Kendrick Lamar stood alongside Dre for "The Recipe," Lamar's new cut produced by Dre.
New York rapper 50 Cent arrived to do bits of his early classics -- "Wanksta," "P.I.M.P." and "In Da Club" -- and the masses were enthusiastic and welcoming to our East Coast guest. Eminem waltzed out casually, his hoodie pulled up, to salute Dre's work with some verses -- the best of which was a snippet of "Forgot About Dre," a Dre track from 2001. Snoop and Dre honored the late singer Nate Dogg, the soulful singer who provided hooks on some of G-funk's classic jams as well.
The Tupac hologram? A red herring, unnecessary and ill advised. His abs still looked great, it's true, and there was a certain spring in his step as he and (the living) Snoop rapped their collaboration "2 of Americaz Most Wanted." But when the hologram rhymed the line, "my intention's to get richer," well, we know how that ended up.
Regardless, Dre and Snoop closed Coachella 2012, Part 1 on a high note (no pun intended), and delivered the California vibe to a lot of its happy citizens and visitors.
-- Randall Roberts @liledit
Photos: Rappers Dr. Dre, left, and Snoop Dogg perform onstage during Day 3 of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on Sunday. Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella.