LL Cool J, A F.O.R.CE. at TD Garden!

Hip Hop’s F.O.R.C.E. on full display for 50th finalé.

ERS-Plus is turning up the volume on MCs across 50 years of Hip Hop. Want more Hip-Hop and R&B? Check out ERS-Plus on 88.9FM HD2 and online at WERSPlus.org.

L.L. Cool J performing at TD Garden during the F.O.R.C.E tour

L.L. Cool J at TD Garden, the F.O.R.C.E tour

by DJ Mo Wilks, Photos courtesy of Jim LaCreta
To say a good time was had by all would be an understatement. LL Cool J’s FORCE Tour stopped through the TD Garden on Sunday November 19th, celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop with royalty that included a Queen, the DJ of a Fresh Prince and surprise guest performers that straight up did the damn thing. For real, for real: the FORCE (Frequencies Of Real Creative Energy) Tour was a Hip Hop trip from the ABC’s of it, to the OPP’s and DMC’s of it.

Questlove at TD Garden


One Hip Hop’s signature ingredients, the ‘boom bap’, is the boom of the bass and the bap of the drum. Both elements were more than adequately taken care of thanks to the Legendary Roots crew featuring The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff on the turntables under the musical direction of drummer Questlove. LL specifically selected the band for their versatility and because of lead vocalist rapper Black Thought, who LL dubbed at evenings end, “your rapper’s favorite rapper.” Black Thought provided backing rap vocals to keep the artists on task, on pace and on point. Never has there been a rapper more flexible to provide every rapper’s style, cadence and flow as Black Thought. He was flawless.

DJ Jazzy Jeff

DJ Jazzy Jeff

Master emcee Doug E. Fresh was the opening act. An emcee of his caliber commanded the TD Garden stage and could have done so on his own for the entire night. A historic moment occurred when he and storytelling great Slick Rick reunited to perform their classic, “The Show”. Rick would also rhyme to “Mona Lisa” with Jazzy Jeff on the turntables. Slick Rick was draped in his signature full chain along with backup dancers, The Slick-ettes. The human beatbox trainer, Doug E. Fresh announced this was not only Hip Hop’s biggest party, but the biggest Scorpio birthday party.

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick at TD Garden

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick

LL Cool J, possibly the best in-shape rapper in the game, took the stage for the first of his two performance sets. Seamlessly, Uncle L and The Roots were synced up to the mammoth background screen that projected music video memories for the crowd to reminisce to. His set included: “4,3,2,1,” “Around The Way Girl,” “Head Sprung,” “Jingling Baby,” “Nitro,” and “Going Back To Cali”. The sold out Garden audience was put on notice while the Bronx, New York may have been Hip Hop’s birthplace, Queens had a hand in the art as well. When he brought out DMC of Run DMC, they rapped together to “Here We Go”. Shortly after, DMC rocked out and rhymed to “It’s Tricky”.

LL Cool J and DMC of Run DMC

LL Cool J and DMC

DMC of Run DMC at TD Garden

DMC of Run DMC







There was a pause in between performers with The Roots Crew showing their creative musicianship. The Roots took the arena on a journey that covered icons Earth Wind and Fire, blended into a DMX tribute, then made a segue from Stevie Wonder’s vintage hit “Knocks Me Off My Feet” into WU-Tang’s ODB “Shimmy Shimmy”. The Flavor Unit was next to rock the mic.

Queen Latifah at TD Garden

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah took the TD Garden stage to a standing ovation as is deserving of rap royalty. She began with her first hit 1989’s, “Wrath Of My Madness” giving a loving shout to the track’s producer, the late DJ Mark The 45 King. Latifah decked out in sparkling gear moved the crowd, through her catalog of jams including, “Just Another Day,” and “It’s Alright”. A true supportive sister, Latifah would bring to the stage another Native Tongues/Flavor Unit member: Monie Love. The duo recreated their hit collab, “Ladies First” and Latifah gave Monie the stage to show some love, having her perform “Monie In The Middle”.

Monie Love at TD Garden

Monie Love

Queen Latifah showed why she’s on par with any male rapper in terms of flow, celebrity and influence. She introduced her fellow New Jersey rapper Treach of Naughty By Nature to the roar of the crowd.

Queen Latifah and Treach of Naughty By Nature at TD Garden

Latifah and Treach

Treach didn’t waste a second, jumping right into the mix with his group’s hits,”Uptown Anthem,” “Craziest,” and “O.P.P.” The Queen and leader of the Flavor Unit called for a very appropriate change in the playlist, switching out her song, “Unity” for, Naughty By Nature’s, “Hip Hop Hooray”, as a salute to Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary as well as the concluding evening of their successful national tour.

LL Cool J at TD Garden

LL Cool J

L.L. Cool J would take the stage again with DJ Z-Trip for his final set and tour bows. During this set he proved why the Ladies Love Cool James with a series of slow sensual grooves, and occasional shirt lift the ladies definitely approved of. His final set featured, “I Need Love,” and “Hey Love” featuring Boyz II Men. There were salutes to rappers who had passed away including Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest and a nod to Notorious B.I.G. as well duets he did with Jennifer Lopez. The screams were non-stop. After giving the ladies some flavor, Cool J reminded dudes that just because he has a soft side, he’s still the Ripper rapper who is not to be trifled with.

Reviving his lyrics from the rap collaboration “I Shot Ya”, L.L. effortlessly dismissed and reminded people rappers like Kool Moe D and Ice-T didn’t last long when in the crosshairs of L.L.’s path. One of his concluding songs, “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”, took us back in time to one of his break out songs which made it to the soundtrack to the movie Krush Groove. He would smooth out the set again paying tribute to spreading love to the ladies with, “Who Do You Love” and the playful track “Hush”. In what could only be described as L.L.’s tribute to his own childhood rap heroes, he rocked the audience out to Brooklyn’s Whodini and their 1982 hit, “Freaks Come Out at Night”.

It was an amazing, generational transcending event from start to finish, full of families sharing smiles, Kangols, Adidas suits, colorful graffiti clothing, large earrings and memories. Everyone reminisced and rapped along to the soundtrack of their youth; a time of Hip Hop’s infancy and growth.

Quoting the Notorious B.I.G. from his hit “Juicy”, ‘Who ever thought that hip-hop would take it this far?’ Nay-sayers surely didn’t, but the voices of the artists and their supporters knew Hip Hop was and is going far. Cheers to the spirit of Hip Hop and the next 50 years.

Hip Hop 50th Anniversary: Snoop Dogg, Icon

By Kathia Dawson, Urban Coordinator


The world of hip-hop changed when Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, entered the music industry. Over three decades, he’s become known for his distinctive style, laid-back flow and his ability to bridge generations with his music. On October 20th, 1971, a legend was born.


Hailing from Long Beach, California, Snoop embodies the sun-soaked vibes of the West Coast in his music and persona. He had an affinity for music from the age of six and honed that love for the rest of his life. He started along the path to musical stardom in the early 1990s when a tape from the collaborative group 213 that consisted of him, his two cousins and a friend landed in the hands of Dr. Dre. From then, Snoop was discovered. Snoop for his unique flavor with a distinctive, laid-back style that would later become his trademark.


Snoop Dogg’s big break came when he collaborated with hip-hop heavyweight Dr. Dre, who featured him on his single “Deep Cover,” and his landmark album, The Chronic, in 1992. In 1993, he signed to Death Row Records and released his first album “Doggystyle.” This album became an instant classic, entering the Billboard 200 at number one. Hit singles off the album included “Gin and Juice” and “What’s My Name?.” Snoop did it again in 1996, peaking on the Billboard 200 Pop and R&B album charts with his double platinum sophomore album, Tha Doggfather. The album featured longtime friend and rapper Tupac Shakur, aka “Makaveli,” who died a month before the album’s release.


Snoop Dogg’s talents don’t stop at being a musical powerhouse; he’s ventured into acting, brand spokesperson and cannabis advocate. He has a cannabis brand, “Leafs by Snoop,” as well as cooking show “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party”.  Other endorsements include: Corona, Beyond Meat, Sodastream and Grubhub. In 2018, he also published his own cookbook.  Snoop purchased his former record company, Death Row Records and is planning to dive into film production.  He’s been featured in documentaries about Tupac and Biggie, played minor roles in Soul Plane, Scary Movie, and Turbo and reality television.


Snoop Dogg’s family consists of high school sweetheart wife Shante three adult children, five grandchildren.  Shante serves as her husband’s manager and co-creating the unisex scarf line, “The Broadus Collection”.  She is the owner of Boss Lady Entertainment, a music management company.


Snoop Dogg and Tupac met through their work at Death Row Records and became close friends in their time together. Snoop co-rapped in Tupac’s “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” After Tupac’s death, Snoop became an unofficial torchbearer of not only Death Row Records but the west coast legacy as well. In 2017, Snoop inducted Tupac into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


One of Snoop Dogg’s most remarkable qualities is his musical versatility.  He’s worked with artists from Pharrell Williams, on “Beautiful,” to Katy Perry, on “California Gurls.”  In 2012, Snoop Dogg turned into Snoop Lion when he released a Reggae album titled Reincarnated. In 2013, he collaborated with funk musician Dâm Funk for the album 7 Days of Funk. Snoop said in a 2014 interview with The Guardian, “When I’m recording as Snoopzila, I’m basically an offspring of Bootsy Collins.”  Snoop Dogg has had numerous successes working with R&B funk legend Charlie Wilson, of Gap Band fam — “One more day” and “Peaches n’ Cream,” just to name a few. Snoop even nicknamed Wilson “Uncle Charlie.” When commenting on Wilson in a press release, Snoop said “Uncle Charlie has always been a big inspiration for me… his testimony of what he’s overcome.”  The two also collaborated with Pharrell.


“Nuthin’ But A G Thang” (Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg) (1992). “One, two, three and to the fo.’ Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do’” one of the most well-known intros in hip hop history.

“Deep Cover” (Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg) (1992). Dr. Dre’s introduced his protégé on the soundtrack “Deep Cover.” Snoop Dogg delivered right out of the gate with an instant classic.

“Gin and Juice” (1994). “Laid back” like the L.A. lifestyle and Snoop’s rapstyle.

“Vapors” (1996). From his sophomore album, Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg covered a hip-hop classic: Biz Markie’s “Vapors” and revealed his appreciation for 80’s hip-hop culture.

“Drop It Like It’s Hot” (featuring Pharrell) (2004). Snoop teamed up with super producer Pharrell whose golden touch provided one of the best Snoop Dogg songs of the 00s. The song is Snoop’s biggest hit to date debuting at No.1 on the Billboard 100.


Bootsy Collins
Rick James
Parliament Funkadelic
George Clinton
Biz Markie
Slick Rick


1994, “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” (with Dr. Dre) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
1995, “Gin and Juice” — Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated
1996, “What Would You Do” (with Tha Dogg Pound) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
2000, “Still D.R.E.” (with Dr. Dre) — Nominated
2001, “The Next Episode” (with Dr. Dre) — Nominated
2004, “Beautiful” (featuring Pharrell & Charlie Wilson) — Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Nominated
2005, “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (featuring Pharrell) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and Best Rap Song Nominated
2009, “Sexual Eruption” — Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated; Best Rap Song Nominated
2011, Teenage Dream (as featured artist) — Album of the Year Nominated. “California Gurls”(with Katy Perry) — Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
2014, Reincarnated — Best Reggae Album Nominated
2016, To Pimp a Butterfly (as featured artist) — Album of the Year Nominated


1994 Billboard Music Award for Top Male Artist
1994 MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video · Doggy Dogg World
1995 Soul Train Music Award for Best Rap Album · Doggystyle
2002 MTV Movie Award for Best Cameo · Training Day
2003 BET Award for Best Collaboration · Beautiful
2006 MTV Video Music Award for Best Dance Video · Buttons
2010 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video · California Gurls
2015 MTV Video Music Award for Best Art Direction · So Many Pros
2016 BET Hip Hop I Am Hip-Hop Icon Award
2018 A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2019 BET Award for Best Gospel/Inspirational Artist · Blessing Me Again
2021 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award


Snoop Dogg was chart-topping from the beginning, setting the scene for the rest of his successful career. He effortlessly bridges the gap between the soulful sounds of the ’70s and the gritty narratives of gangsta rap with his smooth delivery and laid-back charisma. His ability to adapt without compromising his style is what has led to having such a loyal fanbase.

His music not only pays homage to the funk and soul legends of the past but also propels these retro elements into the contemporary hip-hop scene, creating a distinctive blend that is both timeless and relevant. His role in the West Coast hip-hop scene started in the 1990s at Death Row Records, but doesn’t end there. His advocacy for cannabis, his charismatic energy and his adaptability to the ever-changing landscape of fame has made him an icon.

From his early days in Long Beach to becoming a global icon, Snoop Dogg has consistently pushed the boundaries of hip-hop and left an indelible mark on the culture. Snoop’s influence extends far beyond music, and his ability to stay relevant and evolve with the times showcases his lasting impact. Here’s to Snoop Dogg, a true hip-hop legend who continues to inspire and entertain us all.