ANAHEIM, California — You didn’t have to be in New York over the weekend to witness some serious hip-hop fireworks.
Hov made history — again — Sunday at Radio City Music Hall (see “Jay-Z Rolls Out Classics, Big Surprises At Reasonable Doubt 10th-Anniversary Show” ). But the day before, hip-hop fiends on the West Coast were treated to performances by Kanye, Ice Cube, T.I. and Chamillionaire — plus a few surprise guests — at Powerhouse 2006, L.A. radio station Power 106′s annual summer fest.
SoCal temps were brushing 90 degrees, but the music and energy inside Arrowhead Pond made the arena seem even hotter. Despite early audio difficulties, fans were treated to a long but never dull evening of hip-hop as the show ran until 1 a.m., well past the scheduled 11:30 p.m. cutoff. On a deep talent roster that combined all-stars like West, LL Cool J, Paul Wall and E-40 with emerging artists like Pitbull and Chamillionaire, choosing the right act to close the show couldn’t have been easy.
But L.A.’s own Ice Cube, who was dressed in an all-gray outfit and matching Dodgers cap reminiscent of his Death Certificate days, made sure the fans didn’t mind the traffic on the way home. The legendary MC tore through his deep catalog of classics, from club bangers (“You Can Do It” and “We Be Clubbin’ “) to gangsta joints (“Check Yo Self” and “Bow Down”) to Westside-pride anthems (“It Was a Good Day” and “How to Survive in South Central”).
Cube got a little help during his 30-minute set from Lil Jon, who joined him onstage for “Go to Church,” from his just-released Laugh Now, Cry Later (see “Ice Cube Wants The Last Laugh With Independent LP Featuring Lil Jon, Snoop” ). It was the omnipresent Crunk meister’s third appearance of the night — earlier he’d stepped onstage for Pitbull and E-40.
Preceding Cube was a clean-shaven Kanye West, who took the stage admitting he had just woken from a listless nap. Backed by his now-requisite full string section, Ye busted out all his hits — “Gold Digger,” “All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks” among them. Fans expecting a Jamie Foxx or Adam Levine cameo were instead blessed with a performance of “Drive Slow” with guests Paul Wall, GOOD Music signee GLC and T.I. Tip arrived in a getup that recalled the early ’90s backpacker era: He was dipped in Ralph Lauren schoolboy prep and wore a leather backpack. T.I. served up “What You Know” while the Louis Vuitton don caught his breath for the rendition of “Touch the Sky” that followed.
T.I.’s appearance wasn’t the only surprise in Anaheim Saturday night. A tight-and-toned Janet Jackson walked onstage with Power 106 radio personality Big Boy — equally svelte himself — to introduce Chamillionaire. Midway through his set, Houston’s Mixtape Messiah kept the surprises going by bringing out Krayzie, Layzie and Wish of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, who received a standing ovation and perhaps the loudest crowd reaction of the evening before setting it off with their classics “1st of Tha Month” and “Tha Crossroads.”
While the Bone Thugs’ appearance may have been the night’s biggest surprise, much less shocking was LL Cool J, who spent his set winning over the ladies. After being introduced by a video montage that proclaimed his legendary status in hip-hop, Ladies Love Cool James emerged, handing out roses, licking his lips and later calling 30-plus women onstage for a rendition of “Control Myself.” In between all the sexy, the shirtless singer moved the crowd with “Headsprung,” “Love U Better” and his best-known staple, “Mama Said Knock You Out.”
The hyphy movement came alive when founding father E-40 hit the stage. Flanked by his massive crew of dancers, hype men and, of course, Lil Jon, the Noah Webster of hip-hop slang dropped “Yay Area,” “U and Dat” and the ubiquitous party joint “Tell Me When to Go.”
Latino hip-hop artists were well-represented Saturday night as well. Cuban-born MC Pitbull gave his crowd “Toma”; his booty ode, “Culo”; and shouted out the newly crowned NBA champs Miami Heat. Lil Rob repped for la raza, striding onstage on a low-rider bike, then performing “Summer Nights” with a full mariachi band.
Setting the tone for the evening was the grilled-out Paul Wall, with friend and Expensive Tastes collaborator Travis Barker (see “Paul Wall And Ex-Transplants Targeting Mixtapes This Summer” ) offering his support from backstage. Hip-hop vet Too Short also helped open the event by introducing his new group, the Pack.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.