SCRANTON, Pennsylvania — No lie, no exaggeration. The music at the Young Money Presents: The America’s Most Wanted Music Festival launch at the Toyota Pavilion Monday night was so well-received, a fan in a wheelchair jumped up to rock to the music.
After love daddies Jeremih and Pleasure P played up the sexiness of their music to start the show, [artist id="2814953"]Soulja Boy Tell’em[/artist] injected door-to-door energy during his set. With a flurry of mixtape jams and album cuts such as “Gucci Bandanna,” the teen sensation shook the outdoor venue. “Crank That” came on, and the man in the wheelchair sitting about 10 rows back stood up and sang along. Soulja’s DJ switched the very familiar instrumental track to a rock-and-roll beat.
“Kiss Me Through the Phone” was next, and the ladies in the crowd were more than adequate substitutes for the absent vocals of Sammie. “Kiss me through the phone!” they sang along.
Soulja Boy’s coup de grace, however, was one of the biggest rap jams of the last year, “Turn My Swag On.” During the song, instead of jumping around and getting crunk, Soulja started throwing $100 bills in the crowd. As the fans sang, “Hopped up out the bed, turned my swag on,” the Gucci-clad rapper came to the very front of each side of the stage, started rolling the crisp bills into little balls and acted as if he were shooting NBA free throws as he tossed greenbacks to fans.
Young Jeezy admirably kept up the enthusiasm during his set. The crowd embraced banger after banger, standing on their feet and cheering.
“Bottom of the Map,” “Who Dat,” “My Hood,” all came in succession, causing most of the kids to jump up and down. The guy in the wheelchair once again stood up, this time waving a towel that read “Thug Motivation 103.” (Jeezy’s street team was on its A game, passing out towels and stickers promoting Young’s upcoming LP.)
“Put On” was huge, with Jeezy introducing his band and back-up singer when Kanye West’s verse played. West wasn’t there in the flesh, although his girlfriend, Amber Rose, was backstage, walking around and holding hands with Young Money clique member Nicki Minaj.
Jeezy’s set continued with a section of his guest appearances, such as “Love in This Club,” “I Luv Your Girl” and the “Dey Know” remix.
Young was hoping to rock the house with “My President” toward the end (Scranton is the hometown of Vice President Joe Biden) of his set, but he got carried away and went over his time limit. So, instead of building up to a grand finale, “My President” became travelling music for Young and his band to exit the stage.
“I had two more records I was gonna kill them with,” Jeezy said on his tour bus later. Expect better time management as the tour progresses.
Next up was headliner [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist]. For the past couple of years, Weezy has had that can-do-no-wrong aura, and while Jeezy and Soulja had the spectators on their feet, when Wayne came out, everyone stood on their chairs — and in some cases, on their armrests — to get the best possible view. From their perches, the fans cheered all night for modern classics such “A Milli” and “Got Money.”
Pictures of T.I., Jay-Z, Kanye West and Wayne himself came on a huge screen that hung above the stage before “Swagga Like Us,” while a photo of Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice briefly showed during “Mr. Carter.” “Flyer than ‘Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice,’ ” he rapped.
The rapper, wearing army-fatigue shorts, later warned the fans he was getting ready to play his favorite song, then “Best Rapper Alive” came on. A montage of pictures of all his album and singles played on the screen. Minutes later, a man brought a guitar out to Wayne, and his band (live instrumentation has been a Weezy show staple the past year or so) began to play “Walk This Way.”
The opening guitar riffs alone for “Prom Queen” garnered tremendous cheers. Young Money singer Shanell (D. Woods’ sister) came out and crooned the hook while Wayne’s dancers waved pompoms.
Weezy’s pa, the Birdman, came out for “We Takin’ Over,” “Run This City” and the street hit “Always Strapped.”
Weezy then announced he was going into the Young Money section of the show and started off with his franchise artist. Drake, whose planned 30-minute set had to be drastically cut down because he’s still recovering from a torn ACL, entered the stage via a platform that was lowered from high above and began with “Successful.”
“I go by the name of Drake,” he told the euphoric crowd, declaring that Young Money was “the realest team in the game.” Drake then told the fans he wanted to do something for the women, “Best I Ever Had” followed.
“You the f—in’ best,” he and Wayne yelled, pointing to various women in the audience.
After Drake, Wayne introduced more from his artist roster, including Tyga, Lil Twist, Lil Chuckee, Gutta Gutta, Jae Millz, Mack Maine and Nicky Minaj.
Weezy ended the show with his whole family onstage for “Every Girl,” as the audience sang along.
After the show, Wayne talked about how he’s noticed his fanbase growing and evolving.
“That hit me last tour,” he said, explaining how the fans that come to his concerts now are different from when he was a teenager on Cash Money records. “The last tour, when I was doing a song like ‘Bling Bling’ … they would know what I’m talking about, but they don’t [now]. Then I would say something like ‘Lollipop,’ and they’d know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like, ‘Wow, I have a new wave of fans.’ It’s amazing.”