Dr. Dre made more money off midgrade headphones than he did off some of the best rap records ever produced. Audiophiles be hatin', but the maestro timed the inevitable renaissance of over-the-ear headphones perfectly, and hit the streets with a product every bit as sleek and fashionable as my own generation's white earbuds were, lo a decade now past.
Cannabis's creeping legalization and the fast spread of portable loose-leaf vaporizers present a similar business opportunity for Dre's old homie Snoop Dogg, who can capitalize on his own reputation as a noted weed enthusiast in much the same way his colleague did with his reputation as a studio rat. So Snoop has paired with Grenco Science for a line of G Pen vaporizers, including the new Snoop Dogg Bush G Pro ($120, comes with a copy of the new Snoop record).
But I'll tell you now what they told you about Beats: The product endorsed by the rapper doesn't compare to other premium brands. In this case, let's put Snoop up against the Vapir Prima, which looks like something Jean-Luc Picard would toke on the Holodeck, but is probably the finest vaporizer I've encountered this side of the Pax 2.
The Snoop vape is ivory-colored plastic, with the image of a green plant that appears to be boxwood on the side. It's light and simple to charge with micro USB. At just over $100, it's the kind of thing you could afford to lose or have confiscated.
I had three big problems with it, though.
First, the plastic lid is tough to open. Unlike earlier G Pen models, which screwed together, it simply snaps into place. I had to use a paper clip to pry it open, and kept worrying I'd snap it.
Second, when you do get it going, the Snoop vape's topside oven and thin plastic shell means it's hot on the lips—always unpleasant. It's slow to heat, but that's not a major problem. However, I did find it runs a little too hot, creating a rough, harsh vapor that stung my throat.
The newest loose-leaf vaporizer from Vapir (pronounced VAYP-eer) came to us before its official release. As stated, it looks like a futuristic pipe as conceived in the era of Ford Probes and Max Headroom, but it also works really, really well.
Unlike other loose-leaf vapes, which tend to be vertically oriented, the Prima is shaped vaguely like a pipe, with a bowl inside the front cap and a horizontal airway leading back to the mouthpiece. It sits very nicely on a coffee table between hits.
Pretty much every piece of the device is removable and replaceable, including a stainless-steel vapor path that pops out so you can deep clean it. Car chargers and backup batteries are available online. They even sell European power adapters online, so you could give this thing a good alcohol scrub and then bring it to Amsterdam, where you could plug it into the wall at your hotel.
I was impressed by how fast it heats up—it will hit any of the four preprogrammed temperatures in about a minute—but even more impressed by the quality of the thick, flavorful vapor it produced.
I hate to diss Snoop, but if I was looking for a new vape, I'd either buy this Prima or a Pax.