South Side Ballroom, Dallas
Friday, April 28, 2017
For the last three years, Lil Wayne's hip-hop career has been plagued by an ugly legal battle with Birdman, the co-founder of his parent record label Cash Money Records, who has held up the release of the highly anticipated Carter V. Lil Wayne says it has been ready to release since Dec. 9, 2014.
Perhaps in an effort to appease disappointed fans and get his mind off the matter, Lil Wayne has embarked on the Kloser 2 U tour. It's only visiting 12 cities, and stopping at smaller venues than the rapper normally plays.
During the Dallas leg of the tour, Friday at the South Side Ballroom, Lil Wayne was all smiles. He walked out on stage to "Mr. Carter." It was an appropriate opening song, as the hook asks, “Hey, Mr. Carter, tell me where you’ve been; they’ve been asking, they’ve been searching, they’ve been wondering.”
Lil Wayne quickly put all those questions to rest for his ravenous fans, who packed the Ballroom from wall to wall. He gave a high-energy performance, bouncing to and from each side of the stage and engaging the audience as he worked through his chart-topping hits such as “John,” “Love Me,” “Go DJ” and “Lollipop.”
He performed “Back That Azz Up,” a song he released in 1998 when the rapper was just 14 years old. Lil Wayne has already enjoyed a long career, full of peaks and valleys. He has at times been considered the best rapper alive, battling Jay-Z for the title around 2007.
He's still only 34 years old and Lil Wayne has aged pretty well. Friday night, he sounded as good as he does on his records. Whereas most touring rappers rely on a backing track for their vocals, Wayne performed without one and was backed by a drummer on stage.
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Wayne wasn’t shy about addressing the elephant in the room: Carter V. Although he never said Birdman’s name or cursed the label, as he’s done in past performances, he mentioned that his label Young Money is “going through some fucked up shit.” He thanked his fans for supporting him throughout the debacle.
The evening's performance wasn't flawless. About 20 minutes into his set, Lil Wayne hit the pause button and let some of his fellow artists at Young Money take the stage, including Dallas native Lil Twist. This brief intermission visibly brought the energy down in the venue but Wayne soon returned and corrected that with renditions of “I’m Me,” “No Frauds” and “A Milli.”
But right when the show seemed to be reaching its climax, around 45 minutes in, Wayne thanked the fans one last time, performed his verse from Chance The Rapper’s “No Problem” and “No Worries,” then abruptly left. The set felt noticeably short partly because Lil Wayne's catalog is so deep; he had dozens of albums, mixtapes and feature songs to pick from.
It wasn’t until the house lights turned on that the crowd gave up hopes of an encore and the “That’s it?” groans began. As the venue emptied, the most common remark was that Lil Wayne could have played a lot longer than he did.