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I Am Music Tour
With Lil Wayne, Nicki Manaj, Rick Ross, Mix Master Mike, Travis Barker and Porcelain Black
Thursday, April 28
Rexall Place

As the rain spit outside Rexall place Thursday night, dampening the harsh smell of rank marijuana and the spirit of whimpering youth who spoke like they were from South Central Compton, confused throngs wearing ‘Free Weezy’ shirts and oversized track suits waited outside wondering.  Door times had passed considerably and, according to both estimated set times and concert logic, the opening artist, Porcelain should at least be finishing up.

Luck would have it; the mass crowd filtered through the heavy-pat-downed entrance and was witness to only one god-awful track by Porcelain Black.  One track only because the stages arrive in Edmonton later than hoped.  Black’s Ke$ha-inspired set (of one song, “This is what Rock ‘N’ Roll Looks Like) can be summed up as part strip routine, part strip soundtrack.  There’s no clear reason to purchase an album by Porcelain Black — if she actually has one out (she does soon!) — even people that adore this type of music can see passed this façade of talent.  This is not actually what Rock ‘N’ Roll Looks Like.  Thank goodness.

The mock-strip routine of Porcelain Black was set aside for an oversized ‘stereo’ housing Mix Master Mike in one speaker, Travis Barker in the other.  Undoubtedly both of these artists have severe talent, however, you’d never realized it here.  MMM’s production, DJing skills were underused and underappreciated as heavy bass and overly-snappy snare drums of Barker’s solo, rap-rock nightmare, Can a Drummer Get Some? dominated the air.  As the two rattled through their set (set?) of songs from Barker’s album, they attempted to engage a sparse audience, all of which would seemingly cheer for anything at this point.  Feeling like I was missing something, I realized that the Lil Wayne’s festival would roll on with or without me.  As much as people want to naturally cheer on talent, at this show, it seems they were also inclined to applaud loud noises, distorted bass and bright, flashing lights. 

Rick Ross might be known for stealing an identity and/or impersonating some sort of original gangster, however, his stage show was veil thin and didn’t impersonate anything of quality.  Even if throngs of Ross’ fans dawned silkscreened chains in his honour, Ross, like all of the opening artists of the I Am Music tour, was cut extremely short.  With a mailed in script, Ricky Rozay gave his audience exactly what they wanted: oversized imagery and heavy, hard-hitting songs (not to mention an dreadful ‘iPhone/cell phone rap’) .  The strong(er) production of his albums was indiscernible as the motto for the night seemed to be, when production fails, hit the bass and or ‘Play that Music’ sample over and over.

The always-ambitious Lil Wayne attacked the stage with a confidence that no other I Am Music tour mate seemed to prove (although, it seems as though all of the production talents and set-up time were directed to Lil Weezy).  Dwayne Carter ripped through a solid-enough 45-minute set of exciting rap that at times felt like an advertisement for some other lifestyle (namely a Young Money way of life).  Stand out track, “Bill Gates,” showed his massive energy and inflated self-image possibly the most and even if Wayne failed at times, his set was an extremely welcome change from the rest of his traveling circus.

Mid-way through Lil Wayne’s set, co-headliner Nicki Manaj entered through the floor with her oddly cute, machine-gun fast rapping-style and quickly proved her worth.  Her set was dense and her style was (is) unique.  When she invited lucky locals onstage with a chance to win a lapdance, I’d had enough.  In an obvious effort to pause her set, she had them engage in a dance-off where they repped their side of the city, I left. This while knowing Lil Wayne would continue his set and his second half would likely be just as engaging as his first. 

A tolerable show, not worth the comical costs of admission, but appealing and engaging nonetheless.  Had the set times been at all accurate people wouldn’t have had to wait in the rain and the show could have been saved.  Yet, once you got in, the sound was atrocious, at best.  Loud bass doesn’t make it right. I’m just happy they all got over the border. 


Photo By Christian Watson


more in Music Review     |     posted May 2nd, 2011 at 9:49am     

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