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Review: Lil Wayne, T.I. explode into Tampa at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre



Sure, Saturday night's America's Most Wanted tour stop at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater could be considered a rap concert. But it's hard not to think of Lil Wayne in terms of rock stardom.

When the curtain came down and a monstrously loud rock band began jamming at 9:18 p.m., Saturday's no-show from rapper Tyga and an amped-up performance by T.I. became just memories.

The 30-year-old New Orleans-born rapper stood in the center of a massive, sprawling set designed around skateboarding ramps as pyrotechnics, from blowtorches to fireworks to emphasize the grand scale of his show. For long stretches, Lil Wayne let the microphone rest on the stand as he planted his feet and delivered energetic renditions of his recent hits from his more than 15-year career.

The set opened with Steady Mobbin' and skateboarders dropped in from the ramps as explosion after explosion shot out from the set pieces. Wayne gave his everything -- only stopping briefly in between songs to rile up the crowd and get them to acknowledge his band and dancers. He thanked his fans through a small speech claiming to list three things about himself. "One, I believe in God. Two, I ain't s--- without you. Three, I AIN'T S--- WITHOUT YOU," Wayne said to the packed amphitheater.

The show kept rolling for more than an hour with only one costume change (from sweatpants and a smiley-face t-shirt with dollar-sign eyes to a pair of camo shorts with no shirt). Special guest T.I. returned to the stage and gave a rendition of Ball that got the already standing crowd on their tiptoes anticipating the parties to come.

Fans hoping to hear some classic Hot Boys and early solo Wayne may have left the arena disappointed. The rapper teased between songs he was going to play some of his old stuff, and the proceeded into Tha Carter III's Lollipop. The farthest Wayne dug back into the crates was a performance of Still Fly featuring his label owner, Birdman.

By the time Wayne hopped on a skateboard to drop in at the end of No Worries it was clear the man just had to much music to condense into a single 90-minute show. It left the crowd wanting, wishing he had performed their favorite song, but not unhappy they came.

T.I., on the other hand, let his classics ring out -- from the songs that launched him to stardom right on down to the singles that rattled trunks before he was even signed to a record deal.

The 32-year-old Atlanta rapper didn't come to the stage as if he were the older guy with a wholesome reality TV show. The opening whispers of Top Back built anticipation, and with a ear-unclogging boom and flash, a spry, near teenage-looking T.I. took the stage and bounced nonstop for what seemed like ages. In old school, high white socks (with the the three black stripes, natch), T.I. and his two hypemen covered every inch of the stage in less than two minutes.

He had his own set, a dilapidated white house, reminiscent of southern homes used for drug deals called "traps." "You know we started that trap music s---," he reminded the crowd before launching into Rubberband Man, an early hit for him.

The majority of the set, even through three costume changes, was heavily focused on his older albums. Classics like 24s and You Don't Know Me started a dancing frenzy before T.I. left the stage for his first costume change. Back in a gray suit and black shirt, it was time for the sexy portion of T.I's catalogue, featuring examinations of his past wrongs like Ain't Forgave Myself and Live in the Sky.

But it didn't stay down for long. "Let's give them something they can dance to," T.I. said as he stripped off his jacket and proceeded to treat the tickled crowd to his patented old-man-with-a-hairbrush dance from the Blurred Lines video.

His rather weak background singers were compensated by his high energy backup band, whose star was a shirtless keyboardist who hasn't met a song he couldn't jump up and down and simultaneously play chords during. Sexy time closed with radio mainstay Whatever You Like and the band got to flex a bit during the final costume change.

When T.I. popped back out the creaky, white door, he had on a red velour sweatsuit and Bring 'em Out was pumping up the crowd. The rest of the show was all hits and jumping, dance breaks and reminders that though he hasn't radio waves as he once did, T.I. still considers himself the King Of The South. Who are we to deny it? Even Lil Wayne addressed him as such.

-- Robbyn Mitchell, tbt*

[Last modified: Sunday, July 14, 2013 1:48pm]


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