Sunday, March 1, 2009

If you're a fan of Southern hip-hop, then Bojangles' Coliseum (formerly Cricket Arena) is where you needed to be Thursday night. T.I. and Young Jeezy co-headlined a concert that also featured surprised sets by Pastor Troy and Young Buck. The only opening acts that were actually on the bill were the GS Boys (of "Stanky Legg" fame), Charlotte native Young S.Dub, and Columbia, SC rapper Lil Ru.

Here's a rundown of what I observed, along with a little video footage.

  • The concert started at 7:30, but it was evident that a lot of people don't care to see the opening acts because the coliseum was less than half full at this time. They missed out, though, because of the surprise guests.
  • Lil Ru got a good response from the crowd when he performed "Nasty Song." That song has been big in South Carolina since last summer and has recently begun getting played on Power 98 and other North Carolina radio stations.
  • Young S.Dub was the hometown act, but he didn't get as much enthusiasm from the crowd as he expected. He kept reminding us he's from Charlotte, but most people weren't familiar with his music, which makes it difficult to rock to. I saw him perform at Alive a couple of months ago and his set was better because he brought a live band. He didn't have that privilege on this night.
  • No Limit Larry was the emcee for the night, introducing the acts and keeping the crowd hyped during transitions. You could tell that No Limit lives and breathes this kind of Southern rap and it was like he'd drank three Red Bulls or something.
  • Pastor Troy came out as a surprise act and performed a few songs. Wearing long braids that some women would probably envy and his trademark wrestling belt on his shoulder, the Pastor was an obvious crowd favorite. After performing a couple of songs, including "Throw It Up," he went into "No Mo Play in G.A." The audience went crazy. He reminded us that the song is ten years old, which is hard to believe but I remember seeing him perform it during the summer of 1999 at a concert in Columbia.
  • The smell of weed was taking over.
  • Next up was Young Buck, which caught the crowd completely by surprise. The former G-Unit rapper has been very low key since his highly publicized (and embarrassing) feud with 50 Cent. He walked onto the stage and asked, "Do you miss me?" He performed "Get Buck" and "Shorty Wanna Ride" and also took time to explain that he's a real G, before launching into a nice freestyle. I'm pretty sure Pastor Troy and Young Buck graced us with their presence since they each were in town hosting parties around CIAA.
  • After Buck and his entourage of 20-plus left the stage, the GS Boys came on. I think most people feel the way I do in expecting that this group is destined to be a one-hit wonder, but I don't knock them. I'm not a fan of "Stanky Legg"--the dance or the song--but I'm not going to bash them or talk about how they're not "real" hip-hop. They had a short set that lasted only about 15 minutes, and they kept it entertaining.
  • Just about all of the fans have arrived by now and the coliseum is about 75 to 80 percent full. Shame on you, Charlotte. A concert with T.I. and Young Jeezy at a venue that holds 10,000 should've been a sellout. And you wonder why promoters don't bring more big-name hip-hop acts.
  • Young Jeezy came out to "Welcome Back" from his current album. He performed many of the hits from his three albums as well as his legendary mixtapes. He did one of my favorites, "Go Crazy," even though Jay-Z wasn't there to do his verse. He got the loudest cheers from the crowd when he performed "Put On," "Soul Survivor," and "My President."
  • Jeezy has the hits in his catalog to keep the crowd going, but his stage presence isn't very strong. Homeboy looks like he's been eating really good so I guess he can't run around like we'd want. All in all he had a good set though.
  • At about 10 p.m. it was time for the biggest star in the building to hit the stage. T.I. ran out to the intro from Paper Trail, with his nephew Kolby, who couldn't be more than three years old, in tow. He performed many of his older hits like "Rubberband Man," "Bring Em Out," and "24s." And he performed nearly every song off of Paper Trail, which is fitting since the album is full of hits and, in my opinion, is his best to date.
  • Before launching into most songs, T.I. would tell a quick story, like about his legal troubles (he said he'd gotten locked up in Mecklenburg County several years ago), or take shots at haters. He also addressed the tough time Rihanna is going through and asked the crowd to sing along to "Live Your Life." When he went into "Swing Ya Rag" I was surprised at how many people pulled rags out of their pockets, even though I'm sure they weren't Louis or Gucci. There wasn't a dull moment in his set. I think my favorite T.I. song is "What You Know," which he performed, and he closed out his set with "Whatever You Like."
  • I wish T.I. and Jeezy would've performed a couple of songs together, like "Bang" and "Top Back Remix." That would've taken the show to another level. Still, the concert ticket was money well spent even though, as Jeezy says, "it's a recession and everybody's broke."


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