UNIONDALE, New York — "If David can go against Goliath with a stone/ I can go at Nas and Jigga both for the throne," 50 Cent rhymes on "High All the Time." Being the most played rapper on the radio and in the clubs, having the biggest buzz on the mixtape circuit and selling over 2 million records in three weeks should be proof enough that the Southside Jamaica, Queens, native is the new king of NYC, but 50 had one more goal to accomplish before getting the crown to sit just right on his doo-rag.
50 has never performed at a major arena in the New York City area. Until Tuesday night, that is, when he finally had his chance at Nassau Coliseum, where he was co-headliner of the Block Party, a concert presented by Big League Entertainment and New York radio station Hot 97. DMX was the other scheduled headliner, with the Clipse, Eve and Jaheim opening. (Click for photos from the show.)
Regardless of who else was on the bill, it was obvious most people were there to see 50, and he did not disappoint. With a giant poster of his album cover hanging in the background, DJ Whoo Kid spinning records and Lloyd Banks hyping the crowd, 50 walked onstage and immediately gave out orders that the crowd gladly followed.
"When I say Slim, you say Shady," said the 26-year-old, who, like all 30 members of his G-Unit crew, wore a bulletproof vest, white T-shirt, jeans and white sneakers. "When I say Dr., you say Dre ... When I say 50, you say Cent."
50 officially opened his set with his mixtape stinger "50 Shot Ya" and went right into "U Not Like Me." "NYPD, LAPD, NYPD," everyone started chanting as the opening notes from his anti-informant anthem resonated throughout the arena.
"Momma said everything that happened to us, was part of God's plan/ So at night when I talk to him, I got my gun in my hand," 50 rapped over the bass-heavy beat, first removing his jersey, then his vest, then his T-shirt.
"OK, let's stop playing with them," he said when the song ended, segueing into the next track, "Wanksta."
"Damn homie, in high school you was the man homie, f--- happened to you?," the audience rapped along, much to the delight of the street-tested rapper, who skipped across the stage like a school kid throughout the song.
The energy level started climbing higher during "What Up Gangsta" and "In Da Club."
The G-Unit came from the side of the stage to the front as the opening notes of the Dre-produced monster hit leaped out of the speakers. "If the roof's on fire, just let it burn/ If you talking 'bout money, homie, I ain't concerned," 50 rhymed amidst the sea of bouncing bulletproof vest-covered bodies that flanked him. Then it was time to address beef.
"I smell pu---, is that you Irv?" he said, beginning to address Murder Inc. "I smell pu---, is that you Ja? I smell pu--- is that you Black? I smell pu----, is that you Tah?" 50 then performed his Inc. dis jam, "Back Down," and switched his focus from musical adversaries to murderous foes with "Many Men (Wish Death)."
The vibe lightened up a little bit for "P.I.M.P.," as 50 took off his black New York Yankees fitted cap and donned a black Run-DMC-style Godfather hat and strolled around, explaining why he'll never give a girl money. His swagger carried through to "If I Can't."
His primping and prancing ended toward the end of the set as 50 put on a scowl for the "G-Unit Anthem." "Y'all better get amped, I'm home," he said, coming off the stage and making his way into the crowd.
"You better get more amped than that," he continued, now surrounded by swarming fans in the first few rows.
"OK, that's more like it," he said with a grin as he came back onstage to perform "21 Questions." "Girl/ It's easy to love me now/ Would you love me if I was down and out?/ Would you still have love for me?" he repeatedly sang.
Judging from the ovation, 50 Cent might actually be 50 years old before he loses any love from the fans. For his finale, he brought his Kevlar-wearing crew back out and highlighted Young Buc on "Bloodhounds."
As 50 and company started to file out around midnight, so did the crowd, some seemingly oblivious to the fact that DMX was supposed to perform. A good thing, too, because as soon as 50 left the stage, the obligatory "Thanks for coming and good night," announcement was made and the house lights were turned on. Less than a minute later, though, one of the show's hosts, Fatman Scoop, came back out and told everyone, "Hey, hold up, DMX is here and wants to show love." Some people even started rushing back to their seats. But 30 seconds later, Scoop told the fans, "Never mind, go home."
DMX does have a history of missing events, like the MTV Video Music Awards, and just Monday he was a no-show for the "Cradle 2 the Grave" premiere party (see "Premiere Of DMX's 'Cradle 2 The Grave' Turns New York Into Hollyhood"). However, a spokesperson for X said that contrary to his bad rep, the Yonkers native did arrive at Nassau Coliseum at 8:45 p.m. and was scheduled to begin what was supposed to be the last performance of the night at 10:20 p.m. X's camp said the music and movie star was not allowed to perform because the show was running so late and the promoter was leery about paying overtime costs.
"I am extremely disappointed that I was not allowed to perform in my
hometown," DMX said in a statement Wednesday morning (February 26). "I have mad love for my fans and regret that I wasn't allowed to express that."
The show's promoter, Mike Green, could not be reached for comment. However, a spokesperson for Nassau Coliseum said DMX not performing had nothing to do with any overtime money. The venue's rep said X was supposed to arrive at the arena at 7 p.m. and didn't actually show until a little after 11 p.m.
The night was filled with lowlights and long lulls in between performances. Before 50 got onstage, Foxy Brown did bring the energy level up a bit, making a surprise appearance and performing for a few minutes. The Brooklyn bad girl's medley of such street anthems as "Oh Yeah" and "Ain't No N---a" gave the crowd a much needed charge. ("They call me the crazy bitch of rap," Foxy told the crowd before leaving the stage because her "plane was about to take off.")
The show started an hour late, but the audience didn't seem bothered at that point as the night's openers, the Clipse, hit the crowd with a flurry of hits, none getting a bigger response than Baby's "What Happened to That Boy," as Cash Money Records' Birdman joined the duo for the tune.
Unfortunately, after the Virginia duo's performance the show's bottom fell out. The fans seemed bored by a local group and started to boo. The boo birds carried over to Eve's set. The Grammy-winner didn't feel the crowd's wrath herself, though, that fate was levied upon Swizz Beatz's upstart lyrical assassin Cassidy. Before Eve came out, he took to the stage, but was strongly urged off by the fans during a freestyle. The female pit bull in a skirt only performed for a few minutes, her voice was hoarse and she told the audience she was sick.
Meanwhile, Jaheim had several audio problems and the crowd was growing listless during his set. "He's putting me to sleep, one male audience member said.
For a feature interview with 50 Cent, check out "50 Cent: Money To Burn."
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.