Toned-down Snoop Dogg still has fans screaming

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Toned-down Snoop Dogg still has fans screaming

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Snoop Dogg, now known as Snoop Lion, performs alongside 2NE1 at his first concert in Korea on Saturday at OL Park Soccer Stadium in Olympic Park, southern Seoul. Provided by VU Entertainment

Some hard-core fans of Snoop Dogg may have been a bit worried when their favorite star appeared on stage wearing a Rastafarian hat Saturday night at Olympic Park in southern Seoul.

After a trip to Jamaica, the American rapper shifted from hip-hop to reggae and changed his name to Snoop Lion, leaving some to wonder what was in store for the evening. But any doubt vanished as soon as he hit the stage with “Still D.R.E.” to screams from hundreds of fans.

Snoop Dogg carefully mixed more familiar pieces like “All I Do is Win” with songs from his new album such as “Here Comes the King.” During his most popular songs like “I Wanna Rock,” “The Shiznit,” “P.I.M.P.,” “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” the soccer stadium seemed to transform into a Hongdae hip-hop club.

“When I heard that Snoop Dogg converted to some sort of a Rastafarian movement after coming back from Jamaica and stopped gangsta rapping, I was really upset,” said Gong Chang-shik, 24, a college student from Seoul. “But after listening to his new music, I wasn’t disappointed at all. I really liked it. He’s a real musician. I admire him for that, so I decided to show some respect and came to the concert.”

The rapper’s new album “Reincarnated” was the first after a transformative trip to Jamaica last year that led to “a new name, a new sound and a new style.”

“My new album and film is an actual journey of me going to Jamaica and finding myself a goal to write reggae music that represents peace, love and positive feelings in places of struggles,” Snoop Dogg said during a press conference a few hours before his concert. “The Jamaica trip is what created the reggae album and the name change. I’ve been doing hip-hop since I was 11 or 12. I wanted to try something little different.”

His newer “La La La” and “No Guns Allowed” are more easygoing and a stark contrast from earlier songs with hardcore and violent lyrics that launched him into show business.

Plucked from obscurity by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg made his debut in 1992 and made his way to the top of the Billboard chart with “Deep Cover,” “The Chronic,” and “Doggy Style.”

Snoop Dogg also made some changes for the location by incorporating Korean pop into his concert on Saturday. Iconic girl group 2NE1 opened the event with hits such as “Fire” and “Can’t Nobody,” and the rapper talked up his “chemistry” with the girls during the preshow press conference.

“Me and 2NE1, I feel like we have a lot of energy. We both represent fun and young generation. I may be a little older, but you know, I still represent the young,” he said.

DJ DDND MVMT and The Airplane Boys also preceded the main act, which started about two hours into the concert.

Still despite the changes to his style and name, Snoop Dogg said he just wants fans to see him for who he really is.

“Snoop Dogg is Snoop Lion. It’s all the same. Snoop Lion is more of who I am partially today, whereas Snoop Dogg is more of who I was yesterday,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’ll never stop making hip hop music. My plan is just to make good music. I feel like, whether it’s reggae or rap, as long as it’s good, that’s all that matters.”

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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