Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Schoolboy Q light up Summerfest's last night in Milwaukee

Piet Levy
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Summerfest’s hip-hop bookings have swung wildly over the last decade, from massive gets like Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar to lackluster years solely featuring past-their-prime perennials. 

But for the final night at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater Sunday, Summerfest seemed to signal how important hip-hop and its fans are to the festival, with an exclusive, and impressive, triple bill of Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg and Schoolboy Q. 

Wayne’s one of the seminal rappers of all time, but when he last played Milwaukee three years ago, he was in a creative slump, and phoning in a brief UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena appearance.

He rebounded with last year’s celebrated, and long-delayed, “Tha Carter V,” and his renewed energy showed on stage Sunday.

Lil Wayne performs at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on July 7, 2019.

With a giant grin and crazed eyes behind pink-tinted, heart-shaped frames on his bejeweled sunglasses, Wayne whizzed through breathless verses on “Tha Carter V” tracks like “Mona Lisa” and "Let It Fly," determined to prove he’s still one of the best rappers in the game.

He made a pretty convincing case, with help from one hell of a hype man in DJ T. Lewis. He also had a powerhouse hard-rock trio that injected bangers like "Steady Mobbin' " and "A Milli" with speaker-rattling ferocity.  

While Wayne’s set was only an hour, he sprinted through his discography at an astounding clip, touching on everything from his guest verse on Chance The Rapper's uplifting "No Problem," to the crowd-pleasing Drake collaboration "The Motto," to early singles like "Fireman" and "Go DJ."

And although the outspoken Packers fan didn't offer any Green and Gold shout-outs, he did take a moment to salute the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, admitting, that even though he's a Lakers fan, he thought the Bucks would go all the way this season.

Next year, Weezy, next year. 

Snoop Dogg performs at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on July 7, 2019.

An opening video intro for Snoop Dogg's hourlong set illustrated just how far he's expanded his brand, including family-friendly forays into game shows and cooking programs.

But Sunday's show was definitely not family-friendly, with four women doing stripper-pole routines during “Gin & Juice” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” and a hype man in a dog mascot costume waving around some, um, anatomy, while Snoop fired off fake $100 bills, with his head shot subbing for Ben Franklin's.

Mr. Dogg really didn’t need to go through such effort, but he probably wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Thank you for allowing me to be me,” he said near the set’s end, before imploring Wisconsin legislators to legalize marijuana. And as a sign of his thanks, he playfully smoked and shimmied through some of hip-hop’s greatest hits; paid tribute to fallen rappers Nipsey Hussle, Eazy-E, the Notorious B.I.G., and Tupac Shakur; and got the crowd moving for the Camp Randall classic “Jump Around.”

Schoolboy Q performs at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on July 7, 2019.

This was one of Schoolboy Q’s first shows since dropping his critically acclaimed album “Crash Talk” in April. But new songs like “Floating” were like a footnote Sunday.

Dressed in a long-sleeved white T-shirt, plaid pajama pants and blue socks, Q, realizing he had just 40 minutes, shook up his set on the fly, likening it to a comedy special. And his jokes, which made up at least half of the set, were actually really funny, with Q playfully mocking fans in the front and making fun himself. “I’m used to headlining (expletive)," he said at one point, "And this guy on the side of the stage was just like, ‘You’ve got eight minutes.’” Someone in Netflix’s comedy department should give his people a call.

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Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at

Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on "TAP'd In" with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.

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