Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour
With Puff Daddy, Erykah Badu, Lil Kim and more
American Airlines Center, Dallas
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016
When the notes from “Victory” rang out through the American Airlines Center on Wednesday night, the crowd on hand jumped out of their seats looking for Puff Daddy. The hip-hop mogul rose from underneath a fog-smothered stage and gazed out into the crowd, clad in a red velvet jacket and at least a half-dozen gold necklaces.
The ostentatious arrival was just starting. The stage crew hoisted Puff to the top of the venue on a platform, surrounded by pyrotechnics, as he performed “Bad Boy for Life.” From there on out, the rapper's Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour was an extravagant celebration of Bad Boy Records and its deep catalog of hits.
The lineup boasted a who’s who of stars from the label’s heyday, such as Ma$e, 112, Total, the LOX, Faith Evans, Carl Thomas and Lil Kim. French Montana and a couple special guests rounded out the night. There are so many hits — Ma$e’s “Feel So Good,” 112’s “Anywhere,” Faith Evans’ “Love Like This” and so on — that the show maintained a wave of nostalgia for three hours.
Each act delivered strong performances during their slots. 112 put together tight, choreographed dances, Faith Evans showed off the strength of her voice, as did Carl Thomas. Lil Kim and the LOX delivered crisp raps and kept the crowd on their feet. At the beginning of the show, Ma$e put on a strong performance, but as the night went on he showed the low energy expected from a man who’s retired from rap twice before. The wide range of acts was a testament to Puff’s ear for talent that he built Bad Boy Records on.
He still has the touch, though, and French Montana embodied the new school as one of Puff’s most recent signees. After working through “Ain’t Worried About Nothin,” “Ocho Cinco” and others, he and Puff had one of the best onstage exchanges of the night. During Montana’s set, Puff walked on stage in an extravagant white mink coat with a train so long it needed two handlers. After complimenting his boss’ coat, Montana was presented with his own white mink and the two performed “Pop That” and received one of the biggest reactions of the night. It was clear to see how much fun Puff Daddy was having on the night, especially as the special guests began to roll out.
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Even if some in attendance expected Mary J Blige would be the special guest, no one was disappointed when Erykah Badu sauntered onto the stage. The Queen of Neo-Soul received a standing ovation and treated the crowd with a rare performance of her 1997 hit song “Tyrone.” Indulging in the moment, Badu showed off her vocals, belting an impressive set of high notes before finishing the song. It was endearing to see Diddy standing on stage in the shadows with a grin on his face. “This is a dream come true for me,” the mogul said as Badu left the stage. Surprisingly, the biggest reaction from the crowd came from DMX’s entrance. The Yonkers rapper worked the stage with a medley of tracks including “X Gon’ Give It to Ya” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.”
As much of a celebration as the night was for Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Records, he didn’t shy away from low moments of his career and harsh truths. Before the show started, a video montage played featuring clips of a young Sean Combs speaking on his ambitions, iconic images of his music videos and Grammy moments — but it also featured news clips from his highly publicized weapons and assault charges. Later in the night, he made an off-hand reference to a diss Suge Knight made about him in 1995 for being a producer who’s “all in the videos, all on the records, dancing.”
The memory of Biggie Smalls was honored at all times throughout the concert. His music was played before the show started, Faith Evans got emotional talking about new music she’s made featuring his verses and photos of him were displayed throughout the night. All of those were touching gestures but paled in comparison to Puff Daddy’s performance with Faith Evans of “I’ll Be Missing You,” the tribute song he recorded after Biggie’s death in 1997. It was a heartfelt moment and, as much fun as he had on the night, it was easy to see how important it was for Puff to honor Christopher Wallace.
It’s easy to call reunion tours money grabs, but the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour went above and beyond the norm. As it easy it would be to say Puff Daddy did it for himself, he went out of his way to put the artists he’s collaborated with over his two-plus decade career on full display. And as Puff Daddy says, “It’s Bad Boy for life.”