R&B and Rap-style smash hits and bombs are all that matter...
It’s the Jay-Z manifesto in full effect: “we don’t drop hits, we drop bombs that smash.” This is not about being deep in thought or back-catalogue. Tonight, in the face of the tube-topped buying power of 18,000 screaming 14 year-olds, radio-friendly, unit-shifting, R&B and Rap-style smash hits and bombs are all that matter.
Ruff Ryders main-woman Eve, who brought grace and grit to The Roots’ ‘You
Got Me’, struts through tough-love tales ‘Gotta Man’ and ‘Love is Blind’
with a star’s confidence. Then there is Destiny’s Child, who come to rock it-and good. Destiny’s Child sing, dance, and even manage to squeeze a
change of clothes into their short set in a way that could be described as “divarific”. Kudos go to the broken-toed Kelly Rowland, who has to be
carried on and off stage, but works her stool like it is still glamorous.
This isn’t about stools though, it has, is, and always will be about that bouncing Beyonce as she captives the men and rallies the women for ‘No, No, No’, ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’, and ‘Jumpin’ Jumpin’. Even the live band’s obtrusive, mistuned funk, which threatens to strip the slickness right off the songs, can’t stop the undeniable ‘Independent Women’ from getting the whole room to throw their hands up at them.
It’s not that Pink and Mya don’t have the singing and dancing in spiked heels thing down. It’s just that the idea of a “girls-night-out” with the platinumed and vinyled Destiny’s Child is hard to shake. Regular re-tread
R&B bump-and-grind just doesn’t cut it. Where’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard when you need him anyway? If you’re out there, we could have used you for ‘Ghetto Supastar’.
In ODB’s absence, there is international crunk young thing, Nelly to step
up with some old-fashioned ruckus. Nelly and his crew mob a stage like the
most welcome of party crashers. As the Speedy Gonzalez hook of ‘EI’ dips the
crowd’s decibels into the red, it’s clear that he’s hot shit right now.
Unfortunately, the size of the room and the plentitude of St. Lunatics with
mics mean that not only the performance, but the music is over-cranked. What
could be huge and hectic versions of hits ‘Country Grammar’ and
hit-in-waiting ‘Batter Up’ are muddled and all of Nelly’s rhymes are tinned
rather than fresh. Don’t worry though, the frantic crowd know the words
already, and anyone who doesn’t will soon enough.
Hip-Hop’s answer to Cher, Lil’ Kim provides a tongue-lashing session,
trouncing out her brother Little Caesar for a romp through ‘Crush on You’
and a Sisqo-less ‘How Many Licks?’ before gravelly-voiced Ja Rule puts in
his quick two-hitter.
Then the Jigga-man himself, Jay-Z. He’s not too flashy with the stage show,
in fact his laid-back style borders on robotic. What he lacks in physical
flash he makes up with flashy pimps up/hoes down, money-all-around-type
rhymes. The man can sure lead a sing-a-long too. The orphan-chorused ‘Hard
Knock Life’ and a left-side of the crowd versus the right-side version of
‘Nigga What, Nigga Who’ puts Jigga right back where he was before: At the
top of his and everyone else’s game. He will be no doubt be ‘Big Pimpin’ and
loving it for a long time to come.