Lil Wayne, T.I. & 2 Chainz @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Sunday night is usually an evening to sit back, relax and get ready for your work week, but this past one was a bit different. Hip-hop heads from around the city made their way up to the Woodlands for a tour dubbed as “America’s Most Wanted,” featuring a slew of rappers, but namely T.I., 2 Chainz and the evenings headliner Lil Wayne. Since the shows at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion are usually a bit more family friendly, I’m not too sure if the folks that run the venue really knew what they were getting into by booking this one, but the night was upon us and away we went.
Read all about the show and check out a bunch of photos after the jump.
Words and photos by Jim “Eggs” Bricker
For more of my photos from the night, check out the Houston Press Rocks Off review.
The night started with a showcase of up-and-coming rappers that weren’t listed on the original bill. First up was a young white rapper by the name of G-Eazy. While he was giving it his all, the crowd never really seemed to feel what he was feeding them. He had some pretty good rhymes, though, and despite playing to a huge venue with a completely scattered crowd, he still came off as quite the performer. I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time we hear from him.
Next up was boxer-turned-rapper Adrien Broner, who if you haven’t heard of him, I recommend the quick Google. Let’s just say he loves strippers. This was by far the most cheesy set of the day. I couldn’t really tell you how good of a rapper he was, but I could write a book about the ridiculousness of his dance moves. He was all over the stage, running from left to right with his two cronies, flailing his arms and legs about like no one was watching. Shit was too funny.
The final unannounced set came from the rapper Hit-Boy. The oldest of the trio, his stage demeanor showed his age. He wasn’t running around making a fool of himself, yet rather maintained center stage and focused on his craft. Some of his stuff was actually really good, and you could tell the crowd was enjoying him a bit more than the other two earlier openers. By the looks of his gigantic tour bus that was sitting by the parking garage, he’s doing pretty good for himself in the rap game so far.
Finally, we were on to the evenings main attractions. 2 Chainz was first to hit the stage, and besides his DJ who was stationed behind him in a boat-shaped booth, he was a one man show. Sauntering around the stage performing his brand of southern-based booty-shaking rap, 2 Chainz made it known why his name was on the bill. He didn’t necessarily fit the overall vibe of the the night, specifically his style versus headliner Lil Wayne’s, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it.
His set earlier this summer at Free Press Summer Fest was much more packed, and seemed to go over a bit better than this one, but it was still pretty good for what it was. His fanbase was much more on the younger side of those in attendance, but that was mostly due to his more recent radio popularity. His decision to change his name from Tity Boi to 2 Chainz was possibly his best decision ever. It opened him up to a younger crowd and allowed him to blow up the way he has over the past few years.
T.I. was next to take the stage, and the first rapper to perform after dark. His stage set-up was the most elaborate of the bunch so far, featuring what looked like the outdoor side of a run-down shack. T.I. made his way out of the shack and down the make-shift porch stairs which was flanked on either side by his live band. I always love a live band at a hip-hop show, but it can make or break the performance. Fortunately, for T.I., the band was on point throughout most of the show, and made his songs shine even brighter than what a DJ could’ve done with them.
T.I is a born entertainer – he was all over the stage, dancing and rapping his way through hit after hit. Sounding a bit like Lil Wayne contemporary Juvenile at times, T.I. (or T.I.P. or Tip or Clifford Harris, whatever you want to call him) got the crowd moving with tunes from his entire repertoire such as “Bring ‘Em Out,” “I’m Back” and the set-closing, Grammy award-winning single “What You Know.” I figured a guest spot from Lil Wayne – he never came out – but Houston’s own Trae The Truth did join him for a duo of songs including a Fat Pat cover. A couple of weeks ago, during Trae’s birthday party at House of Blues, T.I. joined him for a handful of tunes so it was only right for the favor to be returned. Glad it happened, because that was one of my favorite parts of the performance.
Finally, the time was right for Mr. Wayne to hit the stage. It had been some while since Weezy F Baby made his way to Houston, so the anticipation for his return was palpable throughout the pavilion. As the curtain dropped, the stage revealed Wayne on top of a half-pipe to the left of the stage dropping bombs from the get-go. Meanwhile, skaters were using the stage like their own giant park, doing tricks on Wayne’s pipe and a smaller one on the other side. A live band also did their thing on a platform in the center of the stage, just out of the way of the skaters. Also, a giant screen at the back made it look like they were posted up between some buildings, giving depth to the stage. It was pretty damn cool.
Lil Tunechi performed for over an hour and a half, playing pretty much every one of his major hits. The show was mostly focused on his newer material, but songs like “A Milli” and “Lollipop” seemed to elicit the greatest crowd response. At one point in the show, Wayne brought out a gaggle of girls from Houston and danced around with them while going through a slower tune. Half way through the song, as he was crouched down on the stage just watching the ladies shake their shit, one bigger broad dropped it like it was hot spread-legged sans any form of undergarments right in front of Wayne’s face. A diligent camera man, who was just waiting for the moment, zoomed in on said crotch for several seconds. The entirety of the crowd let out a collective gasp followed by tons of laughter – everyone looking at their friends saying “did that really just happen?”
At the end of the song, Wayne was hugging each and every lady giving them his thanks, he finally made it to the one that just bared her all. He stopped and said “Girl, you crazy for that. You just put that thing in my face. I’m a nasty motherfucker, but I wasn’t ready for that shit.” Later, saying that if he knew it was going to happen he would probably “bite it.” It was incredibly funny, and brought the humor out of Wayne which lasted the rest of the night.
Lil Wayne proved why this is his tour, and also that he has enough clout and staying power to fill up huge venues like the Woodlands Pavilion. I had only seen him once before, but that was in his hometown of New Orleans which made it a whole other animal. This was my first time seeing a full-on stadium style performance, and it showed that Weezy is headliner worthy – he’s become huge, and deserves every accreditation thrown his way.