Wiz Khalifa was but a 5-year-old tyke when future mentor/collaborator Snoop Dogg got his first big break, courtesy of Dr. Dre: N.W.A.’s beatcrafting wizard asked the buzzed-about Long Beach, Calif., rookie (and hip-hop legend in the making) to guest-rhyme on 1992 film soundtrack “Deep Cover.”
Two-plus decades later, the august Left Coast MC and his now multiplatinum-selling apprentice from the East, kindred souls in cannabis rap, have hit the concert trail together for the first time. Snoop and Wiz’s 33-date High Road Summer Tour blows into the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre Aug. 16 in Tinley Park.
There the pair will be joined by a bevy of guest performers including Kevin Gates, Jhene Aiko, Casey Veggies and DJ Drama. And “Snoop’s the OG,” Wiz noted proudly during a media conference call in mid-July.
Khalifa said he’s been Snoop Dogg’s fan since grade school, when the latter’s celebrated, megahit solo-album debut, “Doggystyle,” dropped in 1993. Wiz began writing his own rhymes at 9, and buffed up his craft as a teen in Pittsburgh, releasing singles and mixtapes on the independent Rostrum label (founded by a former Arista Records exec).
SNOOP DOGG & WIZ KHALIFAWith Kevin Gates, Jhene Aiko, Casey Veggies, DJ DramaWhen: 7 p.m. Aug. 16Where: Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland, Tinley ParkTickets: $21-$85Info: www.livenation.com
Having already made a goodly amount of noise on the local Steel City scene, in 2010 Khalifa broke nationwide with his catchy-as-a-brushfire hometown salute “Black and Yellow,” named for Pittsburgh’s official colors, displayed by city sports teams. (Football fans seized on Khalifa’s chart-topping single as the Super Bowl-bound Steelers’ unofficial anthem). Earlier that year Khalifa had been declared an artist-to-watch by prescient media outlets, particularly hip-hop publications The Source and XXL, along with long-established cable nets MTV and BET.
It was Snoop Dogg’s eldest son who actually introduced Tha Doggfather to Khalifa’s music. “I’d be going downstairs, and I’d hear it in the bathroom … and then I’d hear it upstairs. I’d be like, ‘Man, who is this?’ ” Snoop told MTV.com.
The two went on to become musical collaborators and friends, more or less in that order, and Khalifa describes their relationship in sunny terms. “Me and Snoop are really cool,” Khalifa said in the teleconference. “We’re more like brothers than [in] a business relationship.” He observed that their friendship truly solidified in 2011, when they co-wrote and recorded a track called “That Good” in Snoop’s home studio.
“We wanted to make some music,” Khalifa detailed, “and I just showed up to his crib. And Snoop, being awesome, was just, like, ‘Pick a beat out.’ I picked one from a folder I had in my email that I’d never really heard before. Put it on, played it, and wrote the hook in about 10 or 15 seconds. Then I [recorded] the hook, and he told me that it sounded like [fabled West Coast rapper, no relation] Nate Dogg singing, so that really made me super-confident.
“Then he wrote his verse – of course, faster than I wrote mine,” Khalifa continued, deferentially, “and went in there and rapped it, and right after Snoop I laid my verse and did a bridge. That was our first in-studio collaboration.”
“The nearly four-minute cut is an ode to the green stuff, [which] opens with Snoop Dogg explaining his very organic method of growing marijuana,” observed the website ConsequenceOfSound.net, adding archly, “While it’s awesome to hear about Snoop’s commitment to sustainable farming, the best part about the laid-back track is being able to zen out to the spacey production.”
“That Good” ultimately adorned the soundtrack album from Snoop ’n’ Wiz’s 2012 weed-comedy-slash-buddy picture, “Mac & Devin Go to High School.”
As for the High Road Summer Tour’s genesis, Khalifa said, it was “my feeling that we should have gotten on the road [long before]. At the end of last year, being that I did a rock ’n’ roll tour with Fall Out Boy, I wanted to do something that was more oriented towards my core audience. It just felt like the perfect opportunity to bring me and Snoop together.
“Growing up listening to his music, and then being able to meet him and be an acquaintance of his, is really cool,” Khalifa said of his pinch-me-I’m-dreaming personal saga, “but the fact that he’s still going and still adding to his legacy is super dope. There’s nobody else in the game like Snoop.”