Rap has always been a genre of shifting themes, varied messages, and ever-evolving production. At its best, it can be like a mirror, a voice that reflects the current climate of American affairs at any given moment. Other times, it's just really fun music you move your head to. In any form, two elements have always remained constant: A smooth flow and a solid beat. The 99 Jamz Summer Jamz Concert at the BB&T Center on Saturday night definitely had great moments, and some ho-hum aspects that didn't pack the punch a big summer concert should. And like a freestyle, there is always a winner and a loser, so let's look at what won and what vomited mom's spaghetti on its sweater.
With a three hour window of performance time for the four headliners, it was important to cram in as much as possible in terms of spectacle and song. K. Michelle, Future, Jeezy, and Rick Ross had abbreviated sets to fit in the time restraints of a summer concert, but each performer had moments which put the crowd on their feet. Almost like a musical Snapchat, each rapper was able to cut and contain a few bars of their most famous songs effectively.
Judging by her introduction, it felt like Beyonce was starting the show. But reality star K. Michelle is completely her own performer, one that shows both staying and star power. Featuring a live band (a talented drummer and pianist/dj) and two synchronized back-up singers, K. Michelle came out with dramatic effect. Vibrant white and purple lights splashed the crowd while the stage was covered in crimson. As the opener, she mostly played to an arriving crowd, but performed like it was a sold-out arena.
Whether its a small audience nodding along or thousands moving in unison, the crowd adds an important level of energy to any show. The relationship between fan and rapper is symbiotic. At the BB&T Center, fans were in constant rhythm when rappers delivered, and MCs and DJs showed their love for them, giving no shortage of shout outs to all the counties in South Florida throughout the show.
The Artist Sometimes Known as Young Jeezy had command of the crowd the moment he stepped on stage. Judging by their reaction, you'd think he was the headliner. With a strong, gritty flow he sounded like tar was covering his vocal chords. Jeezy amped up the energy with every bar, telling the crowd we were going to make this a "gangsta party." Songs ranging from "Everythang," "Trap or Die," and the hit-single "Sole Survivor" kept the momentum flowing, and were highlighted when the Snowman would go acapella for a few bars. He interspersed songs with conversation, hyping the crowd up and even taking a moment for the ladies, saying "If your pussy clean, let me hear you scream." Many clapped and cheered, so a big win for vaginal hygiene.
Rick Ross featuring...
Two things are expected at a Rick Ross show: Boss references and special guest appearances. Looking noticeably slimmer but maintaining his deep Southern growl, Ross appeared on stage with 20-something members of his crew at his back. Audiences roared when T.I. came out, followed by Yo Gotti and fellow Maybach Music Group artist Gunplay. The Boss delivered the goods with his guests, but had trouble holding his own, which brings us to some of the night's low points.
Who's The Boss?
As a headliner, Rick Ross didn't have the energy or enthusiasm one would expect, especially for a hometown boy. The crowd reaction ebbed and flowed, with songs like "B.M.F" getting a large pop, and the aforementioned guest appearances really delivered. But fans had started to gather and go when he was finishing his set and when Ross closed with "Hustlin'," a surprising number of fans were already climbing the stairs of the BB&T Center. It makes one wonder if his music connects with the people of South Florida like it used to.
It feels Miami is split down the middle on DJ Khaled. He draws either inspiration or the ire of many. A self-congratulatory appearance before Rick Ross had Miami's not-so favorite adopted son on stage rap-talking over his most famously produced songs, cutting off each track 10-15 seconds in with "Yo, cut that!" He then scrolled through his phone behind Rick Ross, looking at what one can only assume was an adorable kitten BuzzFeed list..
Drop the Bass
One big problem with a live rap concert is the bass can take over, and not in a good way. Sometimes it can pound so loudly, you feel your clothes shaking, like it did during Future's set. However, often during the concert the bass would buzz loudly with WHOMP WHOMPs and overpower the rappers to the point where you couldn't make out a lyric. In a large arena, it's a considerable issue. A laptop will never replace real instruments, ever.