|Rapper Lil Wayne performs at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on Friday August 19, 2011. (Ernest Doroszuk, QMI Agency)
TORONTO - Jail, lawsuits, money, fame, prison, popularity and more money.
Would rapper Lil Wayne have it any other way?
The controversial artist – and “self-made millionaire” he quickly pointed out -- pulled into Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre Friday night as part of his I'm Still Music tour. Yet for all the brashness of his rhymes, the rapper seemed slightly less over-the-top than a previous show at the venue a few years ago.
A stint at the infamous Rikers Island might do that to a person, but Lil Wayne said early on during the roughly 90-minute set that while being there for eight months, “he never spent a day in jail” thanks to the love from fans all over, including Toronto.
And it was that love the near-capacity crowd showed from start to finish, leaving the rapper to basically put in half the work on some songs while the audience rapped loudly.
With a three-tiered backdrop behind him featuring video screens and his supporting band, Lil Wayne came on stage and danced around to the catchy I'm Going In before quickly moving on to Look At Me Now and Bill Gates.
Informing the crowd he believed in God and was nothing without the fans, Lil Wayne and his backing band (and occasional female dancers) forged on with the first real highlight in Got Money with some help from Mack Maine. Here he moved from side to side as the audience – including several males resembling rejects from Jersey Shore and its possible Ontario counterpart The Lakeshore – lapped it up completely.
However, not even Lil Wayne could prepare for a cameo by Drake that briefly upstaged the headliner. The Toronto artist – making his first appearance on a Toronto stage in a whole seven days since Britney's concert – teamed up with Lil Wayne on I'm On One to a massive ovation. It was only last month Lil Wayne guested at Drake's headlining show at the same Toronto venue.
“I said Drake but I didn't know I was bringing Michael Jackson out,” Lil Wayne joked, perhaps taken aback slightly by the love shown to the hometown star. From there the duo performed Drake's Miss Me before Drake left the stage.
The only lulls in the show came when the rapper left the stage, once leaving a backup singer and dancers to fill as he changed attire, returning to wear a Blue Jays baseball cap. And some softer, slower tunes such as Mrs. Officer and especially How To Love (from the forthcoming album Tha Carter IV) didn't quite pack a punch.
What did were the series of heavier, lyrically crude tracks like John and Mr. Carter, the latter he performed after ambling down a walkway from the stage to a smaller b-stage in the middle of the crowd. Even a sparser rendition of Lollipop near the homestretch and A Milli early on kept that massive smile on Lil Wayne's tattooed face.
The show ended with most having that same huge grin and for good reason.