Review: Ludacris is lyrical, punchy in very loud Summer Splash

Jamz 93.6-FM’s first Summer Splash concert Wednesday night definitely brought the jams. And the bass

Jamz 93.6-FM’s first Summer Splash concert Wednesday night definitely brought the jams. And the bass.

From 7 p.m. on, the speakers were rattling bones throughout a packed Times Union Center, with absolutely no breathing room thanks to Lil Jon’s DJing. While the grooves kept the crowds gyrating, they were also overpoweringly loud, to the point of nausea.

Thankfully, Ludacris, the main attraction on a bill featuring a total of six acts, did not disappoint, offering up rhyme after rhyme in rapid-fire style. His beats, provided by DJ JC, are different enough from song to song to maintain interest and a solid flow, while his lyrical delivery and energy were both punchy and dexterous, ebbing and flowing throughout his performance.

His best numbers included “Ho,” “Pimpin’ All Over the World” and his tributes to drinking and smoking illicit substances, “Everybody Drunk” and “Blueberry Yum Yum,” respectively. While most numbers were truncated, including Ludacris’ parts from the Lil Jon-produced “Yeah,” it didn’t affect audience enjoyment one bit.

One of the most exciting moments of the set actually didn’t involve much of Ludacris at all. JC received a solo spot, spinning away at different beats and samples and in effect turning that time-honored rock tradition of the extended instrumental solo on its head.

Nicki Minaj offered up a surprisingly short set just before Ludacris. Her perfunctory set was highlighted by the fact that, thanks to the pounding bass, she could barely be heard — leaving Young Money’s response vocals to carry whole numbers such as “Baddest Bitch.” She spent nearly half of her entire 20 minutes onstage, off stage, signing women’s breasts.

The openers hit just as much as they missed. Sean Garrett, songwriter for stars such as Usher, Gwen Stefani, Beyonce and others, apparently has some way to go before he’s a star himself. His tepid opening set featured him starting far more songs than he actually finished, which was a shame because his voice actually isn’t half bad. New Boyz fared considerably better, with the energetic back-and-forth between Ben J and Legacy dominating such tracks as “Turnt” and “You’re a Jerk.”

And things only got better when Naughty By Nature took the stage, immediately launching into their hit “O.P.P.” As the veterans of the bill, the group spent some time schooling the young crowd in the old school, offering up snippets of House of Pain, DMX and Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in between their own tracks, including “Jamboree” and the group’s namesake track.

Unfortunately, G-Unit’s Lloyd Banks brought things down a notch. His exhausting songs were punctuated by the DJ’s use of gun sound effects between songs — including reload clicks after each statement Banks made. Coming after Naughty By Nature’s salute to the late, great Tupac Shakur, this seemed more insulting than anything. But Banks had his moments — “Warrior” was a truly menacing cut, delivered early in the set before his hamfisted delivery became tedious.

Categories: Entertainment

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