Southern hip-hop bad boy Lil Wayne brought his second edition of the America’s Most Wanted tour to Saratoga Performing Arts Center Saturday night, delivering a non-stop dance party to the nearly full house.
With a set touching on all his material, including this year’s “I Am Not a Human Being II,” Wayne kept the energy high and the rhymes flowing for over an hour and a half. A full band featuring guitars, drums, bass and keyboards augmented Wayne’s DJ, DJ 4our5ive, keeping the heavy-hitting beats and melodies front and center with Wayne’s snarling delivery. And with a dark cityscape backdrop, skateboarders on ramps, dancers in various states of undressing and pyrotechnics punctuating nearly every song, there was plenty to look at as well as dance to.
Wayne hit hard right from the start with “We Be Steady Mobbin’” and continued to push hard with the drug homage “Blunt Blowin’ ” as clouds of funny-smelling smoke drifted up from the crowd. “Trippy,” “Gunwalk” and “Rich as ****” brought the energy to a fever pitch, with Wayne running back and forth between his dancers, spitting rhymes with speed and precision. Things finally slowed down for the surprisingly effective ballad “How to Love,” but the reprieve was short-lived, as the band hit a climax with “Lollipop” soon thereafter.
After a brief DJ set, Wayne jumped back in, delivering some of his hardest-hitting material with “A Milli” and “Bandz a Make Her Dance.” A welcome cameo from opener T.I. kept the set building until an explosive climax on “I Ain’t Got No Worries” to end the main set.
Atlanta rapper T.I. made a memorable impression with his intense 45-minute set, sandwiched between the opening acts and Lil Wayne. With a live band, T.I.’s set crackled with an energy that none of the openers reached. It took a while for the group to find its groove, but once it did on the slow-burning soul of “Still Ain’t Forgave Myself,” things really took off. The soul and old school R&B jamming continued on “Live in the Sky,” with T.I. smoothly delivering lines while slowly undressing out of his three-piece suit.
Later highlights included Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” an energetic crowd pleaser that got everyone dancing along, and “Live Your Life,” which found T.I. railing against his haters. Set closer “What You Know” was the best of the bunch, as T.I. and the band pushed and pulled against each other for one final jam session.
The evening’s three openers each performed for only 10 minutes, starting with West Coast rapper G-Eazy, known for his doo-wop/hip-hop mash ups. Saturday night, though, he focused on his all-original material, rather than sample-heavy tracks, managing to make an impression with a live drummer and a loose, breezy delivery. Adrien Broner upped the ante with a posse of rappers and a hard-hitting DJ, although with three or four rappers going at once, the sound was a bit muddy.
Hit Boy was the last of these quick hit sets, and he was the first rapper of the evening to really pump the crowd up.
His beats hit heavy and hard, and his intense set seemed to be over before it began.