America’s Most Wanted Captivates Audiences
The buzz for these artists has reached a pitch this summer that rings slightly louder than the deaf piercing screams of thousands of fans that filled the stadium at Jones Beach Theater on Saturday August 1st. Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, Young Jeezy, Jeremih and the grand introduction of the Young Money team performed some of the biggest anthems of the summer at The America’s Most Wanted Music Festival.
The stadium filled with fans to what looked like a sold out show with the stands full of old and new fans alike. Most were there to see Lil Wayne, but the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue was whether or not Drake would perform. On the heels of his shocking falling incident at a concert the day before in Camden New Jersey fans were both concerned and anxious to know if they would catch a glimpse of one of the the most popular new artists this year.
There was no formal announcement until the middle of Wayne’s set. He said: “I must let you know, we had a technical difficulty yesterday. The (n word) fell.” According to Wayne, Drake went into surgery and he sincerely asked for the audience’s prayers.
The show began on time, to the surprise of many fans who came streaming into the venue during the third set. Those who came early got a special treat with the live set of Jeremih and the high energy of Soulja Boy Tell Em. Soulja Boy performed to a halfway filled venue, but threw himself into it as if it were a packed house.
Indeed, Soulja Boy has come a long way in his musical journey. Some would argue that the journey was a destruction plot against real music, but no doubt about it, Soulja Boy has confidence, stage presence, and dedicated fans. Arguably Soulja Boy and Wayne were the two best performances of the night in terms of on stage personas and delivery. New female rapper Nicki Minaj of Young Money came in at a close third.
Young Jeezy was the third set, but for many late comers he was the opening act. He incorporated a live band in his set. No doubt about it, he has songs that move the crowd. From “What you know about that” to “My Hood” he had everyone up and on their feet. His band didn’t add much to his show but it gave the impression he was really trying to put on a good performance. So good that he had too many songs in his set, and his last song My President is Black didn’t get to play through to the end. But Jeezy gets an F for style. He had on a leather, black leather jacket, in the summer. Overall, the audience’ reaction was bigger than his performance.
Folks didn’t need to wait long before the star of the show blazed the stage, literally. This tour without a doubt seals Lil Wayne’s status as a modern day iconic artist. The energy brought to his live show is incredible. He had every single person standing and singing every single word. He strutted up and down that stage as if he were a king surveying his kingdom. The audience were all his dutiful servants ready to wave a hand or shout back at a moment’s notice. The curtain lifted and lights and graphics engulfed the stage as the A Milli track played. And the heat from the fire when he launched the throwback track “Fireman” could be felt by anyone within a few hundred feet of the stage. He went on for the next two hours straight by himself with the exception of a few who briefly appeared including the Bird Man himself. Wayne also introduced the Young Money team in the middle of his set. He even brought out his rocker side, following the song “Gangster Music”, someone brought a guitar out to him and he went into his own rendition of “Walk This Way.” Dancers came out dressed in goth-like outfits, amongst them was Young Money songstress Shanel. They at first seemed a bit random but the guys in the audience must have loved the free strip tease as they all straddled the stripper poles on stage.
With no Drake, Jae Millz lead the Young Money section. And Weezy proceeded to introduce the rest one by one including: Lil Twist, Lil Chuckee, T-Streets, Tyga, Gudda Gudda and Nicki Minaj. Each performed one song with Nicki Minaj having the biggest and most hyped introduction. It wasn’t until after Nicki that Wayne announced that Drake was expected to go into surgery the next day. Up until that point the audience still had hope that he might come limping out from behind the curtain.
Without Drake, The America’s Most Wanted Festival at Jones Beach is more of a Lil Wayne concert than anything else, with a few lack luster openings, and one stellar (Soulja Boy). A lot of these new artists still have much more need for growth especially when it comes to live performance. Most artists used back tracking to get a more full sound when performing, but too often during this show the backtrack was used as a crutch. This caused many to come off as if they were lip synching. Nonetheless, the tour is a great way to amplify the buzz and keep the electricity going on the bright lights in Wayne’s World.