Walking onto the stage in a red, fitted cap with a retro Houston Astros logo, gray jeans, shades and a black crew neck sweater to match his black sneakers was Lil Wayne, in his edition of MTV Unplugged. Into the bargain, this was not the traditional MTV Unplugged platform; this was a stage for a commercial concert, which is what it turned out to be, a concert advertised to be another MTV Unplugged broadcast.
The headman of YMCMB (Young Money & Cash Money Billionaires) embarked on his would-be Unplugged with “3 Peat,” “Mr. Carter” and “Shoot Me Down,” all from his last album, Tha Carter III. The three tracks were surprising but also prudent choices. The prudence stems from the fact that the large audience knew the lyrics to songs and was genuine fans of the tracks. All the same, Unplugged is known for having a humble audience to make the exclusive production more intimate. Alas, Wayne’s edition appeared as though it had quadruple the size expected.
The stage was also much larger than expected. The normal, Unplugged platforms left the artists little to no space between them and the fans in attendance as well as limited space to move around, if desired. In the past, artists like Lauryn Hill and Jay-Z performed from a stool for the most part. Wayne did not do that, and I would imagine he would do so if he could redo it.
By his fifth song in the program, “A Milli,” he was sweating, took off his sweater and remained with his short-sleeved, white, crew neck tee shirt. Then, by the following song, “Fireman,” he appeared winded as he barely moved away from the microphone stand although the track Fireman is one that calls for it. I do not know if he has asthma or if it was because he spent time in Rikers Island and was simply out of shape. I just know the nickname “Weezy” makes sense now.
For all that, the most entertaining portion of the show was when Birdman Jr. performed the late 2pac’s “Hail Mary.” Who in God’s name told him to do that? Whoever it was, thank you! I have never laughed so much during a musical performance in my life. Just about everyone in the audience sang along with him while he opened with the chorus, but when the verses started, one could hear a feather drop. They did not know the lyrics, and it was hilarious to me. Some members tried to go through the motions by waving one arm back and forth. Some females danced to it, and it looked as awkward as it sounds. Then, there was some that just appeared to be waiting until the next installment of the chorus to start. I just laughed, a lot.
First, he had no business performing that track because, as an artist, he is nowhere near 2pac and will not be, ever. Second and last, for him to believe that the fans that would be in attendance to his Unplugged broadcast were legitimate fans of hip-hop was mirthful.
Many people got the opportunity they may have yet experienced which is to watch him perform as he would in concert from the footage of skilled cameramen rather than what someone filmed with their cell phone and posted online. Thanks to the footage, one could notice how much Wayne smiles while looking at the floor or how he sported a plain button-pin that said “Tunechi” even though he has “Tune” tattooed next to his left ear. One can also see how experienced he is in performing as he proved that with acts such as folding his shades with one hand and placing it into his pocket discreetly, all while rapping and holding the mic with his other hand. All were things I was not aware of, although I have been of fan of his music since 1998.
Tunechi is an artist unfit of performing seated in a stool. As a result, this Unplugged was not traditional, but, then again, neither is Wayne.