Isn’t it crazy that I, along with millions of others, was able to watch Coachella live off my iPhone in HD? What’s more crazier is that we also got to see Tupac, albeit in holographic form.
While the Dre & Snoop closer set did have it’s nostalgic moments, which we’re great. I was more taking back by how terrible Kendrick and Wiz sounded in comparison to Snoop and even Dre. These guys are literally half their age and they sounded winded, unfocused and lacked vocal presence. Even Wiz whose style borrows heavily from Snoop’s calm and confident steez, lacked the full vocal delivery he has on records.
While Snoop may be that crazy uncle that has smoked too much, it’s undeniable that his vocal chops are second only to Jay-Z. This got me thinking. Can Snoop and to a lesser extent Dre (and maybe even Tupac’s hologram) catch a second wind? Go on another 20 year run? Snoop’s 40 years old, can he be doing this into his sixties? I think he can as he effortlessly performed hit after hit without so much as breaking a sweat. Obviously, Snoop’s style has a lot to do with his ability to deliver a clean vocal performance but isn’t that the point? Don’t you want to make songs that you can actually perform without tiring?
Fifty who has some of the worst live performance vocals, did okay, but I still find it odd that he can’t match his live voice with his recordings. Eminem who is usually a great live performer had an off night as well.
Even the material from the older guys is still much better than what the younger guys are doing. Compare Kendrick and Dre’s The Recipe with any Dre collaboration with Snoop or Tupac. I’m no oldster, I usually think new music is better and more interesting than old stuff that I’ve heard a million times, but when you compare it with the new stuff on level terms, it’s undeniable the old stuff is better. Why is this? Was production better? We’re these artists just better? Or is my own bias creeping in?
I think it has more to do with style. The old style of straight forward hits is played out to the new generation of artists. We can see this in The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. Their songs have more layers, more nuance, their are even more subtleties to their vocal performance. This style change has crept into rap as well, as the music has become more artful. As a consequence it takes away from creating straight forward big records like California Love. This isn’t really a negative because there are many positives to the newer style, however, when performing for 90,000 people it’s impossible to kill with this style. Obviously Kanye and Drake to a lesser extent come close. But watch Bon Iver’s performance and you’ll see a clinic on how to kill with a style that isn’t mainstream at all.