April 15, 2011
American Airlines Center
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Barry Bond
Lil Wayne - Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Travis Barker
I’ll be honest, if it hadn’t of been for Travis Barker performing on the Lil Wayne tour, I would have stayed 100 miles away from this show. Yeah, I know rap dominates the charts these days, but I just can’t get into a genre that butchers the English language under the guise of street poetry.
The show started out with a short set by unannounced opener, Porcelain Black. I kinda liked this tattooed white female rapper’s 20-minute show. Half her long mane was blonde, the other half raven black. I couldn’t understand a word she was warbling, but Porcelain, (aka Alaina Beaton), and her dancers were entertaining. Once Porcelain and her posse left the stage, an amazing boom box stage was erected for the upcoming sonic battle between turntable superstar Mixmaster Mike and rock drummer Travis Barker. Let me tell you, these two could definitely pound out the beats. It was actually quite enjoyable to watch because there were no words to decipher. The sound emanating from their respective loudspeaker positions in the boom box were really dope. (Hey, give me a break. I’m trying to sound hip and cool). I was fascinated by the mock sound battle these two engaged in, and for 45 minutes, it was a mean feat to behold.
And then it was time for Rick Ross. The crowd went wild when he appeared on stage standing in front of a giant poster of himself. Fists were pumping throughout his show, and one even caught me on the jaw. Rookie mistake on my part for not watching where I was going as Rick whipped his people into a tizzy with songs like "No Hands," "Magnificent," "Hustlin’, "Push It" and "Super High." It was actually quite interesting to watch the crowd interact with Rick. The fact they understood what he was saying totally shocked me, then again, when you’re out of your element, shock is the least of your worries.
Finally it was time for Lil Wayne, who made a grand entrance from behind a neon lit Hollywood Squares background, complete with go-go dancers on one level, a deejay on the next, and a live band on the bottom. Interestingly enough, the last time this self-proclaimed greatest rapper on the planet made an appearance in the metro area, he played at the Allen Event Center. Since then Wayne has enhanced his street cred by spending most of 2010 in the Ryker’s Island jail facility on weapon charges (eight months to be exact) and released an album.
Lil Wayne was part entertainer, part ringmaster as he introduced several acts during his own act. Performers included Young Money, Mack Maine, Shanell and the always entertaining Nicki Minaj. There was even an appearance by Lil Twist, the Dallas native who bought himself a billboard at the I-35 / Loop 12 split for six months last year. But the house really erupted when Wayne commented that he’d been gone since last November, and he knew Drake was going to kill ‘em. Right on cue, the Grammy winning Drake joined Wayne on stage to deafening applause.
It was quite shocking, literally, to see Nicki Minaj perform her show in the middle of Lil Wayne's set. Then again, any artist who releases an album called Beam Me Up Scotty can appear any time she wants to during a show. It's also pretty funny to watch this five-foot sparkplug walk out on stage in her white, Maria Antoinette beehive hairdo with accompanying neon bodysuit. It had the 14,000 plus crowd roaring its approval as she vamped her way through her hits. Minaj, if you don't know, is the first artist to ever have seven charting singles in the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. She performed every one of them, including "Your Love," "Right Thru Me" and "Moment 4 Life." Nicki would also return to perform two songs with Wayne, "Roger That" and the Flintstones-themed song "BedRock." I don't know who thought to inject Minaj into Wayne's show, but it certainly added an unexpected twist to an already entertaining show.
When Lil Wayne decided to perform during his own set, the New Orleans native was at his best when he was firing off his phrases accompanied by a live band. The pyro and light show also added nice touches to the show. Frequent Wayne collaborator Birdman joined the party too, trading lyrics with Wayne during "Money to Blow" and two other tracks. A shortened version of his monster hit, "Lollipop" followed, and then the rapper picked up a guitar to play "Prom Queen." Wayne played bits from most of his hits including "Fireman," "Mr. Carter," "Amilli," and the lead single "Six Foot Seven Foot," from the upcoming new album.
After it was all said and done, a festive crowd was left drained and happy. Whether you agree with the music or not, at the end of the day, it’s the audience that’s the ultimate judge. And in this contest, hands down, Tha Carter was hard to beat.