The music industry's biggest movers and shakers were on hand Wednesday night for a screening of "MTV2 Presents: Lil Wayne Unplugged." Weezy's "Unplugged" premieres Sunday at 9 pm ET/PT on MTV, MTV2 and MTV.com, but the specially invited guests gathered in New York City's Bar Basque for an advanced preview.
"I haven't seen an intimate portrait of Lil Wayne in a while," said Hanif Sumner, director of PR for The Source. "He's been away, came back, had to jump into Young Money, and this is a good opportunity for us to see why we're still fans of Lil Wayne. He did a new track off of Tha Carter IV that I didn't expect, and he did a lot of joints that weren't commercially all over the place but fans would know. So it's really something for the fans."
Brian "B.Dot" Miller, content director for RapRadar.com, was also impressed. "I thought it was really good. Wayne definitely deserved to have his 'Unplugged,' " he said. "I think he stands up against Lauryn Hill, the Jay-Z 'Unplugged' — he's right there. The energy was there, Wayne was in the zone and, you know, he's the best rapper alive."
While Miller placed Wayne's special on equal footing with Hov's 2001 "Unplugged" performance, Vibe music editor John Kennedy wasn't ready to make comparisons. "I think his kind of stands on its own. I don't know where it really compares with Jay's. You know, Jay had the Roots; that was crazy. And LL [Cool J], like, there has been a lot of great ones. I think [Wayne] held his own, though."
For veteran journalist Shaheem Reid, the key to the New Orleans lyricist's performance was his versatility. "Sitting down [and] watching the MTV 'Unplugged' is just a testament to the fact that Wayne is one of the premier performers — and not just hip-hop, but in all of music," he said. "He's hip-hop to the core, but he always brings in the rock element, he brings in a little bit of the R&B. He's one of the biggest, if not the biggest, pop stars in the world."
For longtime Weezy fans, "MTV2 Presents: Lil Wayne Unplugged" puts a new twist on some old favorites. "The best thing about it was a lot of the songs that you really don't have an appreciation for that you're already familiar with — songs like 'I'm Single,' 'How to Love' and 'Lollipop.' I kinda got a better appreciation for it when you have live instrumentation and a lot of crowd participation," said Kazeem Famuyide, online editor for The Source. "It was really dope, it was real intimate. Wayne put on a really great show, and he's the most charismatic dude in hip-hop."
Don't miss "MTV2 Presents: Lil Wayne Unplugged," premiering Sunday, June 12, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV2, MTV and MTV.com.