It’s rare when you get to see a top musical act in an intimate venue. Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga fans got to see the objects of their affection at the Wang Center about six months ago, but hip-hop fans got a real treat when rapper 50 Cent hit the House of Blues Thursday night for a fun and energetic show.
While the New York rapper usually sells out arenas and sheds around the world, the smaller club appearance better captured the sound and intensity of the rapper and his rhymes.
The 34-year-old performer, whose albums Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and The Massacre were two of best-selling albums of the past decade, kicked things off with a short apocalyptic film showing burning skyscrapers and destruction. This was replaced by a giant backdrop of the singer, looking like a gigantic King Kong amidst fiery and desolate urban landscape.
The singer kicked off the night with "Then Days Went By," from his 2009 album, Before I Self-Destruct, which was a good mid-tempo start to the concert. The song was performed by just 50 and his DJ, but he was then joined by three other rappers, who accompanied him for most of the rest of the show.
Fiddy was a confident performer, delivering a solid evening of rap hits. He smiled often, offered plenty of the familiar up-and-down arm motions to get the crowd bouncing along, and made frequent eye contact with audience members.
"She Wants It," his 2008 collaboration with Justin Timberlake was well-received by the wonderfully diverse and integrated crowd, but had much more edge than the original version. The same was true for "How We Do," his collaboration with The Game that also had the crowd grooving along.
While listening to rap on an iPod or stereo allows you to pick up the subtleties of both the music and lyrics, a good life rap show becomes more of an organic affair, as the crowd surges and pulses along together to the far louder and overwhelming sonic environment. It’s often difficult to clearly hear specific lines, but those familiar with the songs find themselves pulled into the surf of heavy beats and on-stage bravado.
One of the highlights of the show was the playful song, "P.I.M.P.," for which the singer donned a white fedora and all the swagger of a pimp-of-the-year contest winner. With fewer lyrics and more repetitious refrains, it became a mantra chanted and sung along to by the crowd.
50 performed without a band, with only a DJ providing the music and back-up vocals, but his posse of other rappers joined him for most songs, taking turns on the vocals. The men with the mics were in continuous motion around the stage, flirting and connecting with audience members as the show progressed.
The singer looked much beefier than he did in some photos released six weeks ago showing him scarily gaunt, having lost 50 pounds to play a movie role about a young man with cancer.
Lloyd Banks’ "Hands Up" was another audience favorite, and everyone, naturally, responded by sending their limbs skyward.
The 20-plus songs they performed were mostly short, three minute blasts of hip-hop, and they usually launched into the next tune, with a minimum of banter and chat between songs.
Boston’s hip-hop fans have had some great shows during the first half of 2010, with Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Young Jeezy, Ludacris and the Black-Eyed Peas all gracing Boston stages in recent months. Let’s hope that streak continues for the rest of the year.
by 50 Cent