Snoop Dogg / A$AP Rocky / Joey Bada$$ Bell Stage, Quebec QC, July 5

Snoop Dogg / A$AP Rocky / Joey Bada$$ Bell Stage, Quebec QC, July 5
Photo: Matthew Ritchie
Festival d'été de Québec's first hip-hop themed night of its 2014 edition was headlined by Snoop Dogg, but it was the new generation that stole the night.

Joined by Pro Era compadre Kirk Knight onstage, Joey Bada$$ brought remarkable energy to his show, playing crowd favourites like "World Domination" and his verse from A$AP Rocky's "1 Train." Sure, lifting beats from classics like Pharoahe Monch's "Simon Says" and covering "Jump Around" to win the crowd over was a little gimmicky, but he used those established party-starters to curry the crowd's favour and hype them up before dropping "new shit" from his still unreleased studio debut and "Killuminati" as tribute to late Pro Era member Capital Steez.

The night's best performer was A$AP Rocky, but it suffered from set list choices seemingly aimed at hardcore fans, rather than festival-goers hungry for hits. As a fan of LiveLoveA$AP, it was nice to hear cuts like "Purple" and hands-down highlight "Peso," but Rocky seemed actively to be avoiding LongLiveA$AP. Other than singles "Goldie," "Fuckin' Problems" and "Wild for the Night" — all of which whipped the crowd into a frenzy — there was nary a song from his studio full-length. No "PMW"? No title track? No "1 Train"? Regardless, Rocky's set was powerful, the production of his cuts bolstered by a live guitarist and bassist who added emphasis to the music and slyly began "Fuckin' Problems" with a new chord progression. Rocky himself was a consummate performer, lapping up praise from the crowd and insisting on them starting a "crazy fucking moshpit" for "Wild for the Night." He shared the love, too, asking for bottles from vendors to throw the front row some deserved water.

Snoop Dogg emerged triumphantly to Snoop Lion cut "Here Comes the King," but as his set wore on, it felt more like flipping through a savvy businessman's portfolio than witnessing artistic triumph. His verses from 50 Cent's "P.I.M.P." and Katy Perry's "California Gurls," along with another cover of "Jump Around" (did he not catch Joey Bada$$'s set?) and Bob Marley's "Jammin" were more novel than necessary, and even classic cuts "Ain't No Fun," "Gin and Juice" and his verse from Dr. Dre's "Next Episode" didn't redeem the set as a whole, making it feel rather like Snoop's legacy as a G-funk pioneer is due more to Dre's killer production than his own talent. It might have helped if Snoop had made use of his charm, but he stood fairly stationary on the Bell Stage for most of his set, and his crowd interaction was minimal.

It felt especially like a crutch when he played back-to-back tributes to Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac, and though "Drop It Like It's Hot" provided a late highlight, "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" served as a reminder that Snoop was at the top at one point, and that his biggest hits are now behind him.