The Lil’ Wayne SPAC concert with TI was positively the cat’s meow this past Saturday, right here in Saratoga Springs NY! The juxtaposition of two of rap’s great visionaries, Lil’ Wayne and TI, was incomprehensibly sensational.
Let me first make a disclaimer: I’m more likely to be found at SPAC during one of the ballets or on chamber music night than attending the king of modern rap, but Destiny herself interwove my life with this cosmic spectacle, and I’m all the more enriched for it!
Not knowing the stellar show I had laid out for me, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Before the show, I thought Lil’ Wayne and Lil’ John were the results of an accident with John Wayne, but boy was I wrong!
When I arrived, I saw the endless seas of people in semi-religious attendance and awe. Their dedication and anticipation were inspiring and surprising. Flocks of bodies tensed up with excitement in connected community.
The cause of their adoration wouldn’t be revealed just yet, as Lil’ Wayne didn’t make an appearance until later in the night. First, we were treated to TI.
From a front-row seat, the barrage of unfamiliar music was initially disorienting. You can feel the bass in your chest, and the lyrics vibrate your entire form. But not long after the surprise of a new environment, I was taken by the appeal and catchy brilliance of the genre.
Losing sight of the details and even form of the music, the entirety of the experience overtook me. The backdrop was a scene of a house, with periodic videos elaborating on the tough life of an Atlanta-based thug. With a spectacular full band in the background and two backup singers, the whole piece pulsed and throbbed in beat-driven unison.
His lyrics wove a tapestry of authenticity and real human experience in response to a world incapable of understanding his plights and pleas. It was a picture of the southern poor urban communities, trapped in a world of illicit activity, redeemed by faith and the passion of romance.
As a backdrop and in between songs, when TI changed to fit the mood, the TV’s depicted scenes from his trouble and trauma-ridden lifestyle. He described the difficulties and stamina-sustaining pleasures of the life of the time in a touching lyrical portrait.
But aside from the lyrics, the band was really grooving. In sync with the tone of his tunes, he involved the crowd with his energetic odes to life and vitality. His backup singers no less jumped and bounced on either side, balancing the stage and enthralling the screaming crowds.
Classics like “Anything you like” and “What you know” were astounding, and likely to become standards for the genre. The sheer stimulation and activity of the vibrant performance made his songs come alive like no radio or CD ever could.
I was an instant convert. Tingles, a sense of falling through an endless encompassing musical sky, and shivering excitement were all part of the experience, no less than the songs themselves. “Roll over Beethoven, and dig these rhythm and blues!”
Enraptured with my newfound discovery, I must admit wishing Lil’ Wayne wouldn’t go on stage and end TI’s vigorous, energetic, and life-rendering performance. Little did I realize, Lil’ Wayne could and would follow up any act, including the famous TI!
The intermission left me with a lot to mull over, being introduced to the genre in a flash. As if by a strike of lightning, my life was charred and energized, however shaken with the intensity of the discovery.
I was in this state of disbelief when Lil’ Wayne emerged onto the stage and into my life.
“There are three things you should know about me. 1 — I believe in God. 2 — I ain’t **** without you. 3 — I ain’t **** without you.”
He began and ended with this quote, in a way that reminded me of Jalaluddin Rumi’s own first thing to say, “First, when I was apart from you: This world did not exist; Nor any other.”
Truly, his words and melodies spun clusters of galaxies into existence before my eyes. The backdrop responded visually to the cosmic dance of his pieces. Yet, through all his brilliance, he never stopped being playful — “I’m just having fun up here,” he would periodically remind us.
The backdrop began with his trademark moth, fluttering at first gently, then violently and powerfully to the orchestrated rhythm of his music. As the beat picked up, the backdrops changed and vibrated in sync. Urban landscapes and giant figures of Lil’ Wayne in comatic silence, slowly breathing changed before my eyes. This is to say nothing of the masterful light show, and other ever-changing features of the polymorphous platform.
Built into his stage was a small skating arena, on which skateboarders were continually doing impressive aerial acrobatics. Spins, kicks, manuals, nose-manuals, switches, and aerial twists adorned the backdrop and were executed with perfection.
All of that was merely the backdrop, which complemented the ineffable appeal of Lil’ Wayne’s aural artwork. Immortal tunes like “Fireman” were accompanied by intermittent bursts of live flame out of the stage, and variously graffitied urban landscapes were complemented by potent bursts of light and dark colors.
When I was able to regain control over my involuntary enamorment with the spectacular spectacle long enough, I noticed that the crowd had a similar feeling of overabundant joy and fixation on the immortally iconic figure of Dwayne Carter himself. They reacted to every beat with bobs of head and body, swaying, twirling, and undulation; I found myself often just as physically captive to the rhythmic command of this streetwise virtuoso.
Just as quickly as Lil’ Wayne entered my life, he disappeared. There are only three things you should know about me — and the evening was brought to a close. Picking up a skateboard himself, the crowd inhaled as one in disbelief. Shockingly, he mounted the board and astonished all present by his own admirable acrobatic talents.
Only when it was all over did my heart beat again. For three hours, the twin star system of the red giants TI and Lil’ Wayne danced, played, sang, rapped, and most of all, told truths of a lifestyle hitherto relegated to the margins of society.
The TI and Lil’ Wayne concert was unbelievable. Any Lil’ Wayne SPAC concert review couldn’t accomplish what they can in person, and I’d urge anyone to participate at their next opportunity.
Why not check out more LIVE music in the Saratoga Region?!