Six days after a highly publicized health scare, Lil Wayne was the picture of health at the Sprint Center on Saturday. The rap star from New Orleans co-headlined a concert with Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz. Kansas City artists Tech N9ne, Rich the Factor and Stevie Stone performed opening sets.
A plane transporting Lil Wayne made two emergency landings June 13 as the 33-year-old rapper reportedly suffered severe seizures.
Rapping, laughing and dancing with his customary flair, the man born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. showed no ill effects from the incident. When he removed his shirt for an interpretation of his 2004 hit “Go DJ,” Lil Wayne revealed that he still possesses the physique of a competitive swimmer.
Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, aka Tauheed Epps, are promoting their “ColleGrove” album. Released in March, the collaboration has failed to reverse Lil Wayne’s flagging fortunes. Once the world’s hottest rapper, he has seen his career cool considerably. His headlining appearances at the Sprint Center in 2009 and 2011 drew a combined 20,000 fans. Even with a compressed configuration that reduced the capacity of Saturday’s show to 5,000, hundreds of empty seats littered the arena.
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In spite of the smaller audience and the bare-bones production, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz initiated a euphoric 90-minute dance party. Rather than re-creating full versions of a small portion of their many hits, the duo played snippets of more than three dozen selections. When Lil Wayne questioned why 2 Chainz’s rendition of an A$AP Rocky hit lasted just a few seconds, 2 Chainz sheepishly explained that “I just did the hook” for the 2012 song.
The men’s absorbing interplay was a critical component of the show’s success. The diminutive Lil Wayne has a scratchy rasp that inspired the nickname of Weezy. 2 Chainz is a foot taller and raps with a commanding drawl. While both men specialize in misogynistic and often profane raps, 2 Chainz is a comparatively one-dimensional party rapper, while Lil Wayne is capable of artful insights. Those differences didn’t prevent the men from dancing to renditions of each other’s hits.
Tech N9ne’s 45-minute outing was worthy of the man known as the Kansas City King. His gruff-voiced labelmate Stevie Stone also impressed. Rather than focus on his intriguingly murky music, Rich the Factor complained throughout his 30-minute appearance.
Rather than fuss about Saturday’s logistical imperfections, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz turned their headlining performance into a gleefully vulgar celebration of life.