Snoop Dogg plays Varsity, calls BR ‘second home’

A few hours after rapper Snoop Dogg played in the 2014 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in New Orleans Friday night, he was in Baton Rouge performing for a sold-out show at the Varsity Theatre.

West Coast rapper Snoop was happy to be back in the Louisiana city he lived in after he left Death Row Records in 1998 and signed to Master P’s then-Baton Rouge-based No Limit.

“Y’all treated me like family,” he told his Varsity audience. “This is my second home. Believe that.”

Friday’s celebrity basketball game at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center — which also featured basketball moves by comedian Kevin Hart, “America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon as well as outstanding play by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — must have been a great warm-up for Snoop’s Varsity show.

The energized star took the stage at 11:50 p.m. He rapped, sang and danced for a delighted crowd, accompanied by only DJ Daz Dillinger, a video screen featuring dancers (usually shown from the rear) and a male backup vocalist.

Snoop wore wraparound sunglasses and braids tied up in a clump behind his head. Both he and the backup singer, who was visible to the audience as he sang in the dark from stage left, dressed in blue Adidas track suits.

Snoop’s Baton Rouge appearance followed his other scaled-down performances this week at House of Blues locations in Dallas and Houston. Maybe he’ll mount a bigger production when he appears Sunday at the Joy Theater in New Orleans but, really, Snoop and his two-man crew are plenty of fun as it is.

A warm, natural entertainer whose rap style is both slyly casual and virtuosic, Snoop doesn’t need, for instance, the posse of dancers and supporting players who accompanied him in 2011 at Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans.

As the midnight hour approached, DJ Daz Dillinger, played Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” and teased the rap star’s long-awaited appearance, asking, “Is y’all ready for big Snoop Dogg?”

Making a smooth, cool entrance, Snoop asked an obvious question, too: “Did anybody come to have a good time tonight?”

A contagious rendition of “P.I.M.P.”, the reggae-styled 50 Cent rap song (Snoop did a remix for it), came early in the show. Hands were up all over the club, no prompting needed. The show’s other non-Snoop Dogg material included House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” a natural fit, and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.”

Snoop performed several of his own classics, reaching back to his 1993 debut, “Doggystyle,” for the laid-back “Lodi Dodi” and “Gin and Juice.” Moving up more than a decade, he also dropped his funny 2004 hit, “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” on his ready-to-catch-it audience.

Crowd participation stayed high throughout the performance, especially during in the call-and-response section of the sleek, old-school funky “Who Am I (What’s My Name?).”

Brief though the 50-minute show was, it was packed with entertainment. Snoop gave Baton Rouge a warm farewell in words and music shortly after midnight.

“I will be back anytime y’all want me to come back,” he said before singing the gentle, downright folksy “Young, Wild & Free.”

“So what we get drunk?” he asked in the song. “So what we smoke weed? We’re just having fun. … That’s how it’s supposed to be.”