Lil' Wayne, Keyshia Cole, Akon and more at SummerFest 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise
Better Than: Throwback hip-hop fest Power House from the ‘90s with a side of Pop Rocks and OE.
For South Florida hip-hop enthusiasts, Saturday night’s South Florida SummerFest 2008 at the BankAtlantic Center brought a wave of satisfaction to the crowd, with an onstage mix of up-and-comers and current chart-toppers who made it rain down on the venue with amped beats, nasty hooks and more than a hint of that “ill” factor.
The show launched into song promptly at 7 p.m., as promised, and the up-to-date version of old school favorite Power House (the annual Power 96 hip-hop fest that swept the city back in the ‘90s) had me questioning from the start. The house was barely packed during opening acts featuring a slew of local radio hits like Grindmode’s “I’m So High,” Ball Greezy’s “Shone” and Colby O’Donis’ “What You Got.” R&B’s Casely, who coins himself the “New Prince of the South,” gave a tease of potentially royal treatment with “Emotional,” rocking a red-hot jacket for the occasion. Although the appetizer of the show was nothing to write home about, it was the perfect prelude for blunt rolling, beer chugging and snack time for fans.
Cali-born Keyshia Cole was clad in a racy platinum ensemble, sporting the color of stardom, and was accompanied by two Krumpers, who didn’t seem to suit the mood, but hyped the house nonetheless. She brought it down with her newest slow jam “Heaven Sent,” and didn’t miss a beat with “Shoulda Let You Go.” Featured tracks like “Let It Go” (Missy Elliott) and “Last Night” (Diddy) proved the diva could hold her own without her superstar counterparts. The highlight of the set was feeling the vocalist’s range during “I Remember,” an intimate replay Cole belted, much tastier live than on any iPod. Sure to share about her “long struggle and hustle to get here,” the adopted singer, born to a drug-addicted mother with a deceased father broke ground as a twice-Grammy nominated artist, which was made apparent and gladly celebrated with sing-alongs Saturday night.
A short intermission with a couple of blown speakers and an attempt to keep the sea settled was followed up by DJ Khaled’s typical anthem “I’m So Hood,” which had everyone throwing up their 305s, 954s and 561s. Reppin’ his city and new protégé Ace Hood’s spiked jam “Cash Flow” Khaled definitely pushed the new label We The Best Records to the limit. Just when you were ready for the show to go on, Khaled slid into “We Takin’ Over,” the perfect transition with a cameo by Akon to kick off his hour-plus performance.
At first, I thought Akon live was dope, until we realized more than the vast majority of his list was lip synched. With what seemed like more hits than Michael Jackson, Akon took over BankAtlantic, sharing the stage with T-Pain for the evening, who made sure we knew he was there, clad in a ridiculous purple getup. The duo burst into “Bartender,” which had the crowd spitting lyrics louder than the twosome. Akon got bodies movin’ and heads groovin’ with old tracks like “Ghetto” and “Locked Up, but couldn’t deliver hard enough without help on “Soul Survivor” (Young Jeezy) and “Sweet Escape” (Gwen Stefani).
Most impressive was Akon’s DJ, a mix between Andre 3000 and Humpy Hump from Digital Underground. After a brief storytelling of his love of the ladies and strippers, Akon’s sound system nearly crumbled after “I Wanna Fuck You.” Showing love to the side and center crowds and stripping off his clothes during “Smack That,” the firecracker posted off the stage for the last 30 minutes of his set, topped with “Sweetest Girl,” and I got up on my chair waiting for Weezy to burst into verse, but no such luck. Just when you thought it was finally over, it was like no one could kick Akon off the damn stage. He continued onward with “I Tried So Hard” and newest single “Dangerous,” and it seemed like everyone was in agreement that the star had blown out the spotlights.
Another half hour of DJ Epps on the turntables turned the crowd restless, and even when they announced Lil’ Wayne was in the building, I was skeptical around 11 p.m. that he would make it to the stage. Much to my surprise, Weezy F. Baby blew up my spot kicking things off with a little bit of “Duffle Bag Boy,” in what turned out to be an 80-minute main course. As expected, Wayne’s entourage of 20-plus posted on stage, looking blazed as ever, while worshiping their lyrical master.
Weezy still made ridiculous noise without his tennis ball electric green kicks and matching accents. Rippin’ right into his Cash Money roots, the Hot Boy did a throwback set to his beginning days with “Back That Azz Up” and “The Block Is Hot,” and it was. Wayne was Spittin’ verses from “Go DJ” off Tha Carter, sans Mannie Fresh, and he heated up the joint, sure to get the roof blazin’ with a taste of Tha Carter II’s “Fireman.” Weezy Baby laid down samples from various mix tapes, including a dedication to the Opa-Locka Goon himself, b-day boy Brisco chanting “In The Hood” followed solo by “I Feel Like Dying,” an introspective look at Wayne’s afterthoughts on drug use and climbing to superstardom.
Standout show stopper “Pussy Monster” had the ladies stirring with hot flashes, although I noted the forty-something crew in front of me skipped out once Wayne spilled “And when there’s no more of you in ‘da soup/I remove my spoon and drink your juice.” Along with his “daddy” Birdman, the Cash Money moguls got loose with classic “Stuntin Like My Daddy,” “Leather So Soft,” which had Weezy strummin’ the guitar, receiving an “A” for effort, and then of course, “Pop Bottles.”
With old hits and soon-to-be faves, Weezy brought his A-game so hard, I almost forgot he’s only temporarily posting in the M-I-A on his hiatus from the Big Easy. Taking frequent water breaks, Wayne pushed through the pain, sending some love to the fans screaming, “You are the shit!”
It was only fitting that the current No. 1 chart-topping artist spill out some goodness from his newest baby, Tha Carter III. Blowin’ through tracks like “A Milli,” Kanye-produced “Comfortable” and “Shoot Me Down,” along with T-Pain-heavy “Got Money” and “I’m Me,” from The Leak earlier in the year, the hip-hop stunna had no trouble staking his claim Saturday night. As expected, Cash Money shut out the show with the Billboard top single “Lollipop,” granting Weezy a much-deserved medal for early frontrunner song of summer.
- Tracy Block