The Grammy-nominated rapper from New Orleans, Lil' Wayne, exploded onto the stage in a burst of fire and smoke at Seattle's Key Arena on Jan. 25 for his "I Am Music" tour, which also featured T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes and Keri Hilson.
The whirlwind tour, which hit more than 24 cities in a six-week period from December to January, culminated a record-breaking year for the veteran rapper.
His latest album, "Tha Carter III," sold over 2.7 million copies in the U.S. alone—making it a multi-platinum album as well as the best-selling album of 2008. Due to his soaring success, Lil' Wayne received more Grammy nominations than any other artist—eight nominations in all. Also, it was announced last week that Lil' Wayne, Jay-Z, T.I. and Kanye West will be performing their hit single "Swagga Like Us" at the upcoming Grammy Awards.
"There's always a lot of craziness and a lot of hype at his concerts," Tarynn Swobody, a communication student at the University of Washington – Bothell, said. "And, he is all over the stage all of the time. He never stands in one spot. He's on the ground. He's up in the air. He's jumping up and down. He's just a lot of fun to watch."
While Lil' Wayne entertained the audience and performed a variety of songs from his six albums, his band performed literally in the air. This unique stage setup placed his entire band, including his DJ and guitarist, on several platforms that were suspended from the ceiling on wire cables—resembling an elevator with no sides. Throughout the concert, the platforms moved up and down—creating constant movement and excitement on stage.
With the Key Arena nearly filled, hundreds of screaming fans paid $125 each for floor seats in front of the stage to show their support and devotion to Lil' Wayne and his music. "If you don't remember shit from tonight, remember I ain't shit without you," Lil' Wayne humbly said to his fans.
"I think Lil' Wayne is a great performer, and he put on a great show," Shane Morales, a junior at the University of Washington, said. "He had good pyrotechnics, a good stage presence and strong audience appeal. He's a great rapper. He's good at what he does, and he makes good songs. I think that's all that really matters."
During Lil' Wayne's performance, T-Pain, on his Segway, rolled onto the stage to perform their song "Got Money," which is the third official single off "Tha Carter III" and is nominated for a Grammy for the Best Rap/Song Collaboration. Together on stage, Lil' Wayne and T-Pain announced the future release of a collaborative "T-Wayne" album, which received overwhelming approval from the audience.
During T-Pain's solo performance, he played the piano and sang a variety of songs from his three albums, "Rappa Ternt Sanga," "Epiphany" and "Thr33 Ringz"—which was released in November. Along with Lil' Wayne, T-Pain also received Grammy nominations. Proud of his musical talent and many accomplishments, T-Pain said to the audience, "I write my shit. I produce my shit, and I sing my shit."
With the title of "Thr33 Ringz," T-Pain modeled his stage after a circus theme. T-Pain explained, "The industry I'm in is just like a three ring circus." The circus was fully equipped with a carousel, tent and trampoline, along with women on stilts, dancing little people and fire dancers as circus acts.
Also, T-Pain angrily spoke about another artist whose album has a similar title to his—Britney Spears' "Circus" album, also released in November. Afterward, Spears' music began to play, giving the audience the impression that she was about to come on stage. But instead, a little person with bleached blonde hair came on stage dressed in a red PVC cat suit, like the one Spears' wore in her "Oops!...I Did It Again" video.
While the look-alike was dancing around on stage mocking Spears, T-Pain's song, "I'm N Luv (With A Stripper)," came on. Then, the look-alike stripped off the cat suit and danced provocatively, wearing only black lingerie. This incident sparked controversy and was the topic of conversation on local radio programs, including KUBE 93, the following day.
At the end of his performance, T-Pain said to the audience, "We leave you with these words of encouragement, words of wisdom—Don't do it because it's cool, do it because you're cool."