Rock the Park’s Friday was booked with 90’s hip hop and R&B artists with Tone Loc, Ginuwine, Ma$e, Shaggy, and Snoop Dogg headlining the show.
Tone Loc came onto the stage with his hype man at about 5pm. Loc’s voice at 53 has a gravelly croaking sound to it like it is about to grind itself into silence. While this may sound like a criticism, it’s actually perfect because that’s exactly how he sounded at 23. To have a voice with that much grit maintain itself over 30 years is impressive to say the least. He put on a good show, and the whole crowd seemed to know the words to Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina by heart.
Although not overly familiar with Ginuwine’s catalogue, I found myself recognizing song after song. He put on a great show. It’s somewhat reflective of the depth of talent with this lineup that a multi-platinum, Grammy award winning artist was second in a lineup of five.
How does Ma$e earn a spot above Ginuwine in the billing? With three albums that went quadruple platinum, double platinum and Gold. The 90’s were a busy time with lots of names in the hip-hop genre. It’s easy to forget what a game changer an artist like Ma$e was, with his distinctive slowed down delivery was innovative and was no small. contribution to the shaping of the sound of east coast hip hop. Mase put on a great show, and despite 20 years since his heyday, still has the dimples and smile that makes him look like a perpetual teenager.
Shaggy has a voice that is distinctive to say the least. He sounds like he’s singing through his sinuses. He sounds equal parts reggae and cartoon character. The crazy thing is, it works. Somehow when you mix that sound with Shaggy’s deep baritone voice it comes out sounding like drinking milk before singing was the best idea ever. Songs like “Oh Carolina” and “Mr Boombastic” would sound odd coming from a voice that was less…..odd. the set shaggy played had the whole crowd dancing and having a great time.
Snoop Dogg could possibly be the highlight of the whole week. It’s not just his sound, or his signature laconic flow and his 70’s inspired g funk that make him such a phenomenon. Whether playing Huggy Bear, collaborating with Willie Nelson on a rap/country fusion, or cooking on TV with Martha Stewart, he has a style and aura that is his alone. his sound flows from his personality. Laid back and funky, It’s like he always has the perfect thing to say, but he’s going to make you wait and say it on his timetable. The closest you could get to a rapper who sounds like Snoop Dogg is fellow 213 member Warren G suffering from narcolepsy.
No other rapper has been so successful rapping that slowly about living that fast. True to form, Snoop had the crowd as soon as he hit the stage. He’s the only 47-year-old I’ve ever seen who makes a diamond tooth grill cool. In fact, he’s the only guy I can think of who is any age who can make a diamond tooth grill look cool. His dancers didn’t do the cause any harm in keeping attention directed to the stage, nor did the guy in the stuffed dog mascot suit with cash and weed in his hands. Warren G came out and rapped with snoop on Regulators and helped Snoop with Jump Around and Drop it like it’s hot.
Snoop was a fitting topper for a great night of music.
Almost 30 years into his career, it doesn’t seem like Snoop’s star is ever going to fizzle.
All Photos by David Booth