By Jenna Talavera
Lil Wayne is taking over, one city at a time. After his I Am Music Tour kicked off in Providence, Rhode Island, on Tuesday, he stopped in Newark, New Jersey, last night with his Young Money Crew, T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes and Keri Hilson. It was a can’t-miss concert and the only one in proximity for the New York/ New Jersey area.
I found myself screaming with the crowd as smoke emerged from the stage before Weezy’s entrance. There he was — Mr. Carter himself! It didn’t take long until T-Pain joined him to perform their hits and gave previews of upcoming “T-Wayne” collaboration.
Taking off layers of clothing one by one, Wayne performed “Turnin’ Me On” with Keri Hilson and was down to nothing but pants and his six-pack and tattoos for “Fireman.” After he played several tracks from his mixtapes, he introduced his Young Money Crew. Mack Maine, Lil Twist and Lil Chuckee spit some rhymes, while Jae Millz, Tyga, Gudda Gudda and T-Streets joined them onstage. Together with Wayne and up-and-coming rapper Drake, they performed “Every Girl in the World,” the first single from the Young Money album. Drake (also known as actor Aubrey Graham, who plays Jimmy on “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) stayed onstage for Wayne’s “Mrs. Officer,” followed by the rock hit “Prom Queen.”
I was surprised when I turned to my left and saw Gym Class Heroes and the Young Money entourage bopping their heads in the VIP section as if they’d never seen Lil Wayne perform. As the show was coming to a close, Wayne performed “A Milli” and said goodnight, only to come back in a red boxing robe and leave us with the chorus of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” — because according to Lil Wayne, “There is no me without you.”
I missed Hilson’s opening act but made it to the Prudential Center to see the Gym Class Heroes take the stage and warm up the crowd with tracks like “Cupid’s Chokehold” and “Guilty as Charged.” Frontman Travis McCoy made references to his ex-girlfriend kissing girls (Katy Perry?) and dedicated songs to the women in the audience, closing the set by admitting he can’t keep his hands out of the “Cookie Jar.”
T-Pain drove to center stage in his green golf cart, showing off his hydraulics and spinners. He performed all his hits and collaborations, and I was disappointed that none of his famous co-stars joined him onstage. But T-Pain’s talent and versatility was more than enough, as he played the keyboard, jammed on the drums and, of course, danced the whole time. We also saw a side of T-Pain you’ve never seen before; he mellowed down and sang “Keep Going” from his Thr33 Ringz album without the Auto-Tune.