There was a stretch of time when the crowd thought he wouldn’t show. Whispers that he’d been arrested permeated the arena. The house DJ brazenly teased the audience after each act, running down an endless list of “surprises” that did anything but. The house lights seemed to never fade as the fire marshal took the stage time and time again to insist that the crowd return to their seats or else he wouldn’t come on. Sporadic boos were offset by cohesive chants of “Weezy” that seemed to rise like a smoke to the roof of the stadium.

And then he came.

To the incessant roar of a packed auditorium of 10,000 plus, “The Fireman” himself doused all worry in the crowd with a simple chant:

“Get money. Fuck bitches.”

Not the most wholesome or sensitive of remarks, the opening lyrics to New Orleans rapper Lil’ Wayne’s “Money on My Mind” easily managed to get his credo across to a vibrant Blue Cross Arena crowd without hurting anyone’s feelings, proving once and for all that he is not only the best rapper alive, but also a walking contradiction, the likes of which haven’t been seen in music since the days of Bob Marley.

Like Marley, Wayne shook his natty dreds with fervor last Friday night as he unabashedly showed love to God, Allah and all other forces that impel him to be one of a kind in a game that truly lacks individuals, all while toting gunplay and materialism and showing off his ripped, tattooed torso. But such is the paradox that is Dewayne Carter.

A variety of tracks ranging from his work with the 504 Boys to his underground mixtapes were peppered throughout the night, with special attention paid to the highly anticipated concluding chapter of his “Carter Trilogy,” “Tha Carter III.”

Crowd favorites included “Hustler Muzik,” “Sky is the Limit,” “Go DJ” and the current hit single “Lollipop,” but there was never a dull moment in the smoke-filled Rochester arena occupied by suburban high schoolers, multicultured college students and drug dealers alike, each of whom took their turn in reciting lyrics when Young Money flipped the mic their way.

It wasn’t just the mixture of songs that highlighted this man’s range, but it was also the diverse style in which he delivered them.

“I know I said I wanted to be your favorite rapper,” the Hollygrove, LA native said. “But now I just wanna be your favorite.”

Lil’ Wayne playing the guitar? Believe it. Lil’ Wayne singing a cappella slow jams? Believe it. Lil’ Wayne freestyling a song called “The Pussy Monster”? Believe it.

Such is the variety of entertainment featured at a Weezy show, but words can’t do justice to the charisma and enthusiasm that emanated from a rapper whose style is questioned simply because he comes from the South. On this night, all doubts were laid to rest.

One second, Weezy would be falling off balance due to an apparent overindulgence of liquid codeine and Xanax, and the next he would be slam-dancing to his newly-christened move “The Whammy” or screaming lyrics to a song like it was a heavy metal show.

Amidst all the activity, the highlight of the evening belonged to the portion in which Wayne performed with a very special guest – his “Daddy” and mentor, The Birdman. “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy,” “We Takin’ Over” and the closer, “Pop Bottles,” capped off an evening that will be remembered as much as a hip-hop show as it was a testament to the fruits of dedication and faith.

Surrounded by his tight posse, each of whom he dapped up and shared bottles of champagne with during the finale, Dewayne Carter flexed the muscle that makes him the most real rapper since the days of 2Pac and Biggie, one who is not afraid to confront the limitations and stereotypes of the genre and exemplify the unifying power of music.

In spite of any qualms one may have with his lifestyle, there is no doubt that he’s the truest and most talented rapper in the game, his lyrics reading more as a sermon than empty words of a barefaced thug.

“Before I leave, I wanna say three things,” Vibe Magazine’s “Best Rapper of the Year” explained. “One, do you believe in God? Two, I wouldn’t be shit without you. And three? I wouldn’t be shit without you.”

And the rap game wouldn’t be shit without you, Weezy.

Milbrand is a member of the class of 2008.



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