Saturday Night: Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne & Friends At Toyota Center
Photos by Marco Torres
Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Rick Ross, Bun B, Trae, Yelawolf, Travis Barker & Mix Master Mike, Twist, Shanell, Birdman Toyota Center April 16, 2011
7:22 p.m.: We had not planned on getting here until way later tonight, but Bun B mentioned on his Twitter that the show would start at 7:20 p.m. and when Bun B says something, you get your goddamn ass in gear. Sure hope our sons are okay.
The babysitter said she couldn't get to them until after 8 p.m., so we left them in an empty dumpster behind the Target in Meyerland. They should be fine. We took out the few glass bottles that were in there.
7:30: After a thorough little pat-down out front, we're in. As promised, Travis Barker and Yelawolf are on stage. Superb. There is a gigantic boombox that's been constructed on the stage. Barker is inside of the right speaker, while Mix Master Mike is inside of the left. Yela is stalking around the stage like a cat. Neat, neat, neat.
7:32: Yela's just segued into "Good To Go," which means...
Travis Barker (left) and Mix Master Mike
7:33: Bun! Even when you know he's coming, it's still exciting for him to pop out. He's like Jason Voorhees, except he doesn't murder teenagers.
7:43: Jesus, Barker is an animal. He's all fire and brimstone up there. It's like he's trying to break his own arms using nothing but their own velocity. Is there another drummer in the world who can carry a live show like he can? He and Mike have just mashed together Nas and The Ramones.
It has to be a good sign when your opening act consists of one of the greatest drummers alive, one of the most heralded DJs in music, the man who delivered the most important verse in the history of Southern hip-hop ("Murder," 1996, Ridin' Dirty), and one of the most innately talented MCs of the new era.
7:55: They've just raised a gigantic Rick Ross banner. The crowd is going apeshit right now. Gotta love the idea of everyone sitting around planning out the concert like:
Stage Coordinator: Okay, so Barker and Mike are going to have a giant, super impressive radio onstage that they'll play inside of, right?
Stage Coordinator: That should take about 15 minutes to build, as long as the construction is on point. Cool, cool. Rick Ross goes on after him. What sort of stage stuff will have?
Roadies: Uh, a poster of himself.
Stage Coordinator: Fuckin' Rick Ross.
7:56: Show's starting. They're playing Sam Jackson's pre-murder monologue from Pulp Fiction along with the sound of footsteps. Subtlety is overrated, we suppose.
7:57: "M.C. Hammer"!
8:00: Rick Ross just asked "You know why I love H-Town?!!!" Ten bucks says it's Discovery Green or the Metrorail. Those two things are awesome.
8:00:30: Whoops. Never mind. He said it's because everyday we're hustlin'. Whatevs, we didn't shake on it.
8:00:45: We saw Ross the last time he was in Houston and he did almost this exact same thing. He tends to start with, like, his best, most hype songs back to back to back. It's a great start; everyone goes yo-yo and all. But there's a lull in energy immediately afterwards. If his set is short, it shouldn't matter, but if it's long, it might be a problem.
8:18: Ugh. Is there a more deplorable group of people than the Workout Guys crew, the gathering of knuckleheads united by their dedication to (and inevitably poor understanding of) the human body? Those guys are the worst. They always workout just enough so that you can tell they workout, but not enough that you're particularly impressed by them. And they're always all shiny and shit.
8:21: And there's the Pimp C hat-tip. Cool, cool.
8:22: Trae! Man, good to see him. The crowd is receptive. He does "Inkredible" then bears off into the darkness. Did you know he and Wyclef are making music together now? Yep, yep. More on that later.
8:24: Meek Millz. Another way to say that: Restroom break time.
8:32: Rozay just dropped the "Who's got love for Tupac?" line on the crowd. Asking "Who's got love for Tupac?" at a rap concert is like asking "Who's made some regrettable life decisions?" at the graveyard shift staff meeting at Walmart; that shit's a given, son.
8:33: And Ross is done. Not a bad show at all. A small amount of downness, but generally he was pretty active. Wonder how long it will take them to get his stage props off the stag - they're done.
8:37: They're mentioning over the PA now that Young Money's Lil' Twist is available for live pictures in section 101. Ack. That's better than dead pictures with Lil' Twist, we suppose, but that's about it.
8:58: #NP Drake's "Fancy." Workout Guys are mouthing the words and dancing towards each other. Great. Now would be an excellent time for a plane to land right on our sternum.
9:06: A large woman has just walked to her seat. She has on a bright orange dress and short, cropped, blonde hair. She likes like a gigantic candy corn. That joke pretty much writes itself.
9:14: The lights have just gone out. It's grossly loud. They're playing the automated message from the jail saying that Wayne has been released. That's a neat little trick. Gigantic wall of lights broken into squared segments like that old Tic-Tac-Toe game show(!)... DJ in the middle(!)... live band(!)... sirens(!)... heartbeat noises(!)... fireworks(!)... lit runway(!)... this shit is already crazy.
He comes up from underneath the floor and jumps straight into his verse from Drake's "Going In." He is not dicking around tonight.
9:17: "Look At Me Now" -that seems more appropriate than maybe he meant for it to be.
9:20: He's paused to address the crowd. You can't believe how loud this place is suddenly. He says he wants to address three important before he goes any further. 1. God is important. 2. Fans are important. 3. Fans are important. More cheers. And he's off...
9:21: "A Milli."
9:26: Oooh, nice pull. He's doing "Sky's The Limit" from Drought 3. Best lines: "Fuck yo' hospital, Young Money, we the illest" and "When I was five, my favorite was The Gremlins. Ain't got shit to do with this, but I just thought that I should mention."
9:28: Wayne and Mack Maine are onstage doing some stage kung-fu. His backup dancers are dressed like sexy ninjas. Sexy ninjas are way better than normal ninjas.
9:32: "Go DJ"
9:34: Ahahahahaha. Wayne just did the Southside dance. Please let Lil Keke be in the audience somewhere.
9:42: Twist, Young Money's Mohawk Enthusiast, has just come out to do a song or two of his. That guy is tiny, tiny. He sounds like a bug.
9:45: Shanell, Young Money's Underutilized Singer, has just come out. She has no bug-like qualities.
9:53: Wayne's doing "Single" from No Ceilings. Of course Workout Guys are going crazy.
9:56: Umm, okay, so Wayne's just run off of the stage. There is some Enya music (or something that people will mistake as Enya music) playing. They're playing scenes from Gladiator on the giant light wall. A barefoot man in a monk robe is walking out on stage. He's throwing glitter. WTF?
9:56:15: Oh snap! Nicki Minaj has just come up from underneath the floor. Totally didn't see that one coming. Screams, screams, screams. The lithosphere is cracking beneath our feet.
9:57: FYI, Ms. Minaj is dressed like a giant piece of candy too. Certainly there will be pictures of this floating around on the internet. It'd be easier for you to find those than for us to explain it. Maybe Giant Candy Corn Lady knew this ahead of time? Whatevs.
Nobody that's not a famous musician should ever dress like something that you eat, much less the worst Halloween candy of all Halloween candy. If you're gonna dress like candy, at least dress like a Twix or a Butterfinger or something. When has anyone ever been like, "Yo, you got any Candy Corn I can snack on?"
9:58: And now everyone is playing football on stage. There's even a referee. The WTF count is officially at two.
10:03: Favorite Nicki Minaj line of all time: "I look like Yes and you look like No."
10:05: Minaj has just pulled some girl from the crowd up on stage. She grabs her boob and then gives her a lap dance. Thank you, goodnight.
10:17: New music from Minaj: "Super Bass." Here's a question: Minaj is clearly a talented rapper; most everyone understands that. And she's at her best when she just raps. But she does a lot of other stuff too - mainly, act like a person that she clearly isn't.
Sometimes she seems more like a really convincing method actress than a rapper. Is that good or great or impressive, or does that undermine what she does musically?
10:27: In the middle of giving a dissertation on the dynamics of winning, Minaj singles out a guy in the crowd in an "I Love Nicki" shirt that has caught her attention. She tells him to come on stage and help her perform her last song; likely "Did It On 'Em," as it's one of the few Pink Friday songs she's yet to do). He goes apoplectic.
10:27:15: Yep, it's "Did It On 'Em." The I Love Nicki Guy is going insane. What an excellent moment. Applaud a move like that. That guy will tell that story for the rest of his life. High-five, Minaj.
10:28: Weezy's back! "We Be Steady Mobbin'."
10:43: He's doing that song about wanting to sleep with all of the girls in the world. They're flashing shots of people from the audience onto the large light wall. Some girl is showing her boobs. Naturally, they go back to her, like, nine times. Thank goodness we had sons. We di - oh shit. Hope the babysitter took them out of that dumpster.
10:52: Ha. Birdman just made his cameo. We never know whether or not to get excited when he pops up at a concert. It's like, on the one hand, it's a surprise guest, and that's always cool. But on the other hand, IT'S BIRDMAN.
10:53: Weezy: "If you got love for Drake, sing this..." Guess who comes out. Nobody. Total sike move. Nice. He got everyone with that one, sneaky little bugger. Drake has to be here though, right. Right?
10:57: Drake! Is there a word that means more than "erupted," because that's what this place is doing right now. These timestamps should all be super-capitalized right now.
11:01: Drake's doing "Forever" and he's wearing a University of Houston sweatshirt while he does it and his hair is little unkempt and his shadow beard is a little gritty and he's so much taller than Wayne and he seems so excited to be on stage and everyone is in love with everyone right now. This is excellent.
We've missed you, Drake. Welcome back. This might be the best part of the night.
11:05: Gah-dog. Thought the Drake bit was the last part of the show, but Wayne is still going. He's in impeccable shape. He doesn't even sound winded. He's doing "Mrs. Officer" and all of his dancers are danced like cops from a porno. Porno cops are way better than normal cops.
11:10: Aw, that's cute. Wayne's pretending to play the guitar.
11:17: Via Wayne: "I'm one of the greatest things to happen to music." That is an interesting topic of discussion, and an excellent stopping point for this recap; he'll do a few more minutes before revisiting the Three Important Things speech from earlier.
Is Wayne one of the greatest things to happen to music? He sort of has to be considered that, doesn't he? Remember 2008? Remember the Hot Boys? Remember his Dedication mixtape series? Remember Hurricane Katrina? Remember Drake and Nicki? Remember...
Personal Bias: We've always preferred our block to be hot.
The Crowd: Was justified in spending whatever it was they spent on tickets.
Overheard In the Crowd: Walking out, we heard this doozy: "If it's a girl, I'm gonna name her 'Shamerica'." Please don't let it be a girl.
Random Notebook Dump: This whole review is a random notebook dump. Reread it if you want more.