So downtown Brooklyn was the spot last week.
The sprawling Barclays Center was the venue for the Power 105.1 “Powerhouse” show, which brought out the current crop of popular commercial hip-hop. As loud and as bright as the arena was, it was filled to the rafters with very vocal locals.
So there was Meek Mills, Big Sean, Fabolous, the A$AP crew, Kendrick Lamar and ScHooboy Q. Guesting were the likes of Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim and Jadakiss. Bringing a little R&B to the proceedings were Trey Songz and K. Michelle. Sevyn Streeter treated early arrivers to her new hits “I Like It” and “It Won’t Stop.”
Kicking off the main event, the audience loved them some Big Sean as he rocked it with his performance of “Dance,” “All Me” and “Marvin and Chardonnay.”
K. Michelle, in the tightest catsuit on planet earth, thanked her fans profusely after dropping “V.S.O.P.,” “My Life” and “Can’t Raise a Man.” Meek Mills brought high energy, and though he didn’t do “Church,” he did do “I Believe, “Heaven and Hell” with Jadakiss and Gourdan, and he brought out Nicky Minaj for “Love More” and two other joints
Completely wrapped in her caricature persona, Minaj played it like a veteran—playing to her crowd and giving them what they expected. In between sets, bored patrons took to texting, “tawking” and getting up and getting themselves a brew. At some moments, Two Chainz and Fabolous seemed to bore their own selves with their intermittently lackluster performances and sometimes pedestrian sets.
Fab got the audience with “You Be Killing Em,” “Breathe” and “Ready.” Old dude Chainz did “Feds,” “No Lie” and the other mind-numbing tracks he has become synonymous with. The crowd came for some ratchett – and he delivered. As did some others.
A$AP Rocky and his manic Harlem dudes wrecked the stage with “Problems” and “Shabba.”
Trey Songz performed like an artist completely committed to his craft. He showed off his powerful vocals and carefully crafted, rugged je ne sais quoi, as he crooned “The Neighbors Know My Name,” “Dive In” and “I Invented Sex.”
There was a muted vibe in the air though, some New Yorkers were still smarting after the “Control” controversy in which—much to the chagrin of many an East Coast rapper—Kendrick Lamar called himself “The King of New York.” So much so that fellow Top Dawg entertainer ScHoolboy Q got a cool response, even after he dropped “Collard Greens.” He left the stage without much fanfare.
Indeed, when Lamar was introduced, almost politely, some groups of people around the arena just got up and left. There was no grumbling, no lewd language, just a physical “King of New York this Kendrick.”
Lamar brought out Lil Kim though, perhaps trying to salvage some New York good will. Kim—looking mighty different from the little Kimberley Jones of old—rapped on “Get Money” and “Benjamins” with Lamar. His bowing down to her and proclaiming her the “Queen of New York” was noted by a by-now really amped crowd.
As the midnight hour approached, Lamar roused the masses with “Vibe,” “m.A.A.d city,” “Backseat Freestyle” and “Swimming Pools.” The audience was mixed like most hip-hop shows—a smattering of white girls done up to the nines, purposefully on the prowl; white guys, some just a little too out there “dancing” like it was their last one; then the regular Black crowd, some out on dates, stylin’, some in groups, completely profiin’—individuals there for the favorite act or tune of the moment, the buzzed environment and the kudos of just saying they were in the house.
Don’t be mistaken, the over-40s were in the house too, knowing every artist and every lyric. Perhaps some of the young grandpops and grandmas in shiny tops and patent pants went to kindergarden with 2 Chainz. It’s possible.