Lil Wayne / Nicki Minaj / Rick Ross / Travis Barker Saddledome, Calgary AB April 29
Published May 02, 2011Compared to the headliners, rotund rap star Rick Ross was lacking in stage presence. Combine that with the muffled sound that often accompanies opening acts, and the result was 30 minutes of a fat man slowly waddling around the stage, yelling muffled quips about bitches and Benz's atop a muffled bass boom with ear-piercing air horns sprinkled here and there. When Travis Barker came out to drum for a song, there was a faint snare sound coming through the speakers too, but it was all pretty disrespectful to the excellent production on Ross's hits.
As could be expected, the slow-moving boredom was acknowledged as soon as Lil Wayne took the stage. Armed with pyrotechnics, an excellent backing band, sprawling catalogue of song choices and his own explosive energy, Weezy performed a medley of hits and mixtape jams with the delivery of a caffeine-addled tween. Obligatory pussy talk and call-and-response audience interaction punctuated the banging tracks, but it didn't get in the way of the music for too long.
The set was slowed down a little when the lower rung of the Young Money roster came out to do their thing. Mack Maine was at least a good hype man for Weezy, but Lil Twist's all-AutoTune single was utterly dreadful. When Weezy left the stage, Young Money signee Shanell came out and sang some songs while everyone went for more beers.
Fortunately, the lull in momentum allowed Nicki Minaj to explode onto the stage with "Roman's Revenge," emerging through a trapdoor in the stage and tearing the Saddledome apart with her fierce delivery. Of course, she came sporting one wild outfit, wearing rainbow tie-dyed spandex that accentuated her cosmetically enhanced rear end, particularly when she brought out Travis Barker for a lap dance. Despite the endless amount of gimmicks, Minaj's live rapping and singing cemented her as worthy of endless adulation.
When the show finally felt like it was over, it absolutely wasn't, as Wayne, Maine, Twist and Minaj broke into the sleazy fun of "Bed Rock." Then, Wayne stayed on stage and broke into a number of other songs. From cheesy theatrics and cringe-worthy rap clichés to top-notch performances and raw talent, it was an ideal snapshot the Young Money crew.