Lil Wayne has had quite a year. His newest installation in The Carter series dropped to first week sales of one million. He began jumping on songs like it was 2008 and his shows are selling out faster than Busta Ryhmes raps. It was a scene at The Shoreline Amphitheater when Wayne finally hit the stage. After four opening acts the best rapper alive skated onto the stage, that’s right on a skateboard, and began what would be an epic two hour performance.
Rick Ross hit the stage as the sun went down and got the hyped crowd even more enthusiastic. He spewed his usual lyrics. The drug game, Maybach’s, his icy watch, more Maybach’s and a catchy song about a chopper in his car. Ross is entertaining. But almost an hour’s worth of DJ drops and those barks that come out of him made the idea of Wayne emerging early more and more appealing. Ross does have some of the most dominant features in some of the biggest songs of 2011. It just didn’t translate the right way on stage.
Wayne is a rock star. A business man. A rapper, of course. And now, a skater. Decked out in an outfit worthy of Tony Hawk at the X Games, complete with cutoff jean shorts and knee high socks, he launched into “Mr. Carter.” After that it was all Wayne. He could rap the dictionary and receive a Grammy. But he chose to perform a few of his hits and got the audience’s full attention.
The rapper’s legendary swagger shone through on stage. His confidence with a mic in his hand is at an all time high. But he didn’t go without acknowledging what put him on the arena stage. It isn’t necessarily his talent but the millions that enjoy listening to his world famous creaky voice. Mid way through his set the music stopped blaring and Wayne made sure to get that point across. He also mentioned that the fan mail he received got him through his eight months on Rikers Island last year, locked up on a weapons possession charge. “Because of your letters I spent 8 months on Rikers Island,” Wayne said “but not a day in jail.”
YMCMB is now an empire. Not a record label but THE record label. And Wayne is sitting at the head of the table with his “father” Birdman, who made a cameo to a huge ovation. It’s clear that Weezy performs because he wants to. God knows he has enough money, enough awards, and enough fame. This is what he enjoys doing and the set was all about having fun. As hoards of YMCMB artists were brought on stage for features, including Mac Maine and Gudda Gudda, Tunechi was doing his own thing. Skating up and down a ramp that had been hauled onto the stage. He nearly took a tumble trying to land a kick flip to an audible laugh from the audience. He has a carefree attitude that translates into a great live show.
There were scantily clad dancers surrounding Weezy and an elaborate stage. There was that skate ramp and video screens. A catwalk, cameos from some of the most popular YMCMB artists in the game. All of that added to the show. But the highlight of the night was Wayne and a mic. The live band cleared the stage, the DJ took a break, and Wayne told everyone to quiet down. He launched into “Nightmares of the Bottom,” a song chock full of intelligent lyrics that have to be rewound to be fully understood. What Wayne has become famous for. One lone voice screamed a profanity. The star responded at the end of the song. “I love all of you,” he said “and for the person that said ‘fuck you’..I love you too.” And with that the greatest rapper alive left the stage.