Lil Wayne’s America’s Most Wanted stopped in Oklahoma City Wednesday night and with it some of hip hop’s best artists on the music scene today.
As a staple in hip hop music, winning four Grammy Awards and fifteen nominations, Lil Wayne is showing us by example that the ability to be musically innovative, plus unique lyrically and vocally, is crucial to achieving longevity in a genre so prone to one-hit wonders. Often criticized for the explicit language and content of his lyrics, it can be hard to listen to. Naysayers aside, the following that Lil Wayne has gathered is not only loyal but diverse and he has proven himself to be a step above the dime-a-dozen rap stars that quickly rise and fall.
The sheer number of hit songs Lil Wayne has released over the last ten years probably makes picking a set list difficult, but he never goes wrong with the songs he performed last night, such as “Lollipop” and “A Milli” and “How to Love”. The energy of the crowd when he performed tracks from his more recent albums like “No Worries”, “Love Me” and “Rich As F***” made it evident that Lil Wayne popularity is as strong as ever and rising.
Appealing to his fans and as an homage to his skater image, the stage was transformed into a skate park with working ramps. Li Wayne brings the kind of excitement, energy and flair to a concert that fans are eager to pay for. The dreadlocks, gold teeth and skinny jeans are all part of his eccentric style and personality and he continues to be appealing not only to fans but to other artist eager to collaborate with him and ride the coattails of his success.
2 Chainz, who appeared earlier in the night, returned to the stage to perform crowd pleasers, “Bandz a Make Her Dance” and “Rich as F***” with Lil Wayne.
After beginning his hip hop career over ten years ago and winning three Grammy awards, T.I. is still a star in the music scene and better than ever. The rapper, actor and producer and star of the VH1 reality show “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle” has spent recent years pursuing other interests and making a name for himself in Hollywood by starring in films such as “Takers”, “ATL”, and “Identity Thief.”
T.I.’s stage was set to look like a front porch from his Bankhead neighborhood in Atlanta which so heavily influences his songwriting, making it an appropriate backdrop for his performance. It was clear last night that although fans enjoy his newer material and collaborative songs with his side group Hustle Gang, the older tracks like “Bring ‘Em Out”, “Why You Wanna”, “U Don’t Know Me” and “Whatever You like” that still get fans on their feet and rock the house.
Although 2 Chainz has been rapping since 1997, he is relatively new to the music scene as a solo artist. Formerly known as Tity Boi, he decided to change his name to the more family friendly 2 Chainz in 2011. The change proved to be genius because soon after he released T.R.U. REALigion, the first mixtape to appear on Billboard Music Charts. Since then 2 Chainz has risen meteorically, becoming one of the hottest names in hip hop and making numerous guest appearances on hit songs by Kanye West, Nicky Minaj, Juicy J, Young Jeezy and his tour co-star Lil Wayne. His debut album Based on a T.R.U. Story went gold and earned him three Grammy nominations including Best Rap Album.
Surprisingly, on stage 2 Chainz could be best described as understated in his performance, making for a distinctive style and swagger that likely only adds to his appeal. Without the need for an entourage of ten or twenty on stage with him, characteristic of many rap concerts, the 6’5” rapper is an imposing presence on stage all by himself. It was as if the energy in the arena went from zero to 100 in an instant as soon as he stepped on stage. 2 Chainz has the sort of lyrical flair, style, and presence that make his music irresistible and if the crowd was any indicator, he was a fan favorite of the night rapping his hit songs “No Lie”, “Birthday Song”, “I’m Different” and “Feds Watching.”
The night opened with performances by California natives G-Eazy, Hit Boy and Adrian Broner. As opening acts usually go, it is not unusual to hear struggling or somewhat mediocre artists, but surprisingly, both grabbed the attention of the crowd and likely found new fans here in Oklahoma City. First, hip hop newcomer G-Eazy seems promising, bringing with him impressive beats and a flair and sound characteristic of the Bay area. The second opening act, Adrian Broner, showed off his lyrical skills and energetic beats. Lastly, as a music producer for superstars Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber, Hit Boy is new to performing as a recording artist but not to hip hop. His musical ability is proven by the numerous hit singles he has produced for other recording artists and it will be interesting to see if his own solo career can follow that trend.