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SHOWDOWN

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The differences between Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z - two hip-hop icons - can be subtle or striking.

Snoop drops it like it's hot. Jay-Z brushes his shoulders off.

Tonight, Snoop and Jay-Z will have at least one thing in common: They'll both be performing in Baltimore, though at slightly different venues. Jay-Z is headlining 1st Mariner Arena, which seats more than 14,000, depending on the staging. Snoop is at the slightly smaller (but no less respectable) Rams Head Live in Power Plant Live, which holds 2,000, give or take.

Here are five areas where Snoop and Jay-Z differ, from what's in their cup to what's on their mind.

Their vitals

Born Calvin Broadus Jr. (see why he needed a stage name?), this lanky, laid-back 38-year-old hails from Long Beach, Calif., and is known for his effortless rhymes and marijuana intake.

Born Shawn Carter, the 39-year-old New York City native took hip-hop by storm. With his own record label, basketball team and clothing line (not to mention millions of albums sold), he might be the most successful rapper ever.

Their drinks

It's all about the bubbly, baby. Jay-Z used to pop the uber-expensive Cristal, until Cristal's managing director talked smack on rappers a few years ago. Jay-Z put the cork in Cristal and switched to Armand de Brignac, also known as the "Ace of Spades." Now, Armand is in his music videos (and his cup). An ace for an ace.

His cocktails are just like his rhymes: They go down smooth with a bit of a bite. Early on, Snoop loved sipping on juice mixed with Seagrams gin. Lately, he's been enjoying the yak (slang for dark liquor). When Snoop stopped by Martha Stewart's TV show to make mashed potatoes, he whipped out a secret ingredient: a splash of Landy Desir Cognac. The seductively packaged liquor comes in a bottle shaped like a woman and wrapped in a naughty red dress. And, apparently, it goes well in mashed potatoes. Gravy? Who needs gravy?

Their flow

In your face. When Jay-Z raps, you can't help but listen. And few MCs can turn a phrase like him. Take the autobiographical "December 4th," for example: "I was conceived by Gloria Carter and Adnes Reeves / Who made love under the sycamore tree / which makes me a more sicker MC." If it's not over-the-top, it's probably not Jay-Z.

Effortless. Nobody is more suave than Snoop Dogg. He was the first gangster rapper to rule the mike without getting rowdy. He didn't need to yell or scream. He softly (but firmly) told it like it was. Snoop even developed his own Pig Latin spin-off, where "izzle" is injected into common words. "Deal" becomes "dizzle." "House" becomes "hizzle." "Real" becomes "rizzle." You get the pizzle - er - picture.

Their mindsets

His mind is on his money and his money is on his mind.

He's in an "Empire State of Mind."

Their style

When he dresses up, he dresses up: designer suits, scarves and shoes. Somehow, Jay-Z always looks professional - even when he's only sporting a white T-shirt and jeans. He might rock a necklace and a ring or two, but Jay-Z isn't big on bling. After all, he doesn't need to show off. He's No. 1 and he knows it.

Comfort is key for Snoop, who always looks relaxed. Sweat suits, hoodies and sports jerseys are par for the course - the baggier the better. Shades are also necessary. Snoop wears his sunglasses at night.

Snoop Dogg : performs tonight at Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live. Doors open at 7 p.m. Devin the Dude, Method Man and Redman will also perform. Tickets are $46. Call 410-244-1131 or go to ramsheadlive.com.

Jay-Z : performs tonight at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. N.E.R.D., Wale and J. Cole will open. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50-$127.50. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.com.

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