MANSFIELD -- It was no idle boast. Climbing a set of small steps to a perch at the back of the stage, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson planted his white high-tops in place, bent his knees, and shouted, "I'm about to rock this place, and I'm not even going to move my feet." Some 19,900 voices -- the capacity crowd at the Tweeter Center -- yelled back in agreement.
In most cases, the radio station festival is a fitting vehicle for mainstream hip-hop. Artists are invited to perform for a maximum of half an hour -- they pack in their hit singles, and then dash off, before the reception has soured. For rappers like Jim Jones, whose entire career seems to consist of a chorus and a catch phrase , that's a heck of a deal.
Ditto for Kelly Rowland , formerly of Destiny's Child. With back-up dancers in tow, Rowland dipped, wove, and bounced in place, while the crowd panted under the last of the afternoon sun. She exited after two songs. Total performance : less than 10 minutes.
But for 50 Cent, who was one of the surprise guests at this year's Summer Jam -- Juelz Santana and Fabolous also made appearances -- half an hour was short shrift. Fifty, unlike Rowland, isn't a good singer; unlike Boston-bred Akrobatik , another Summer Jam artist, he isn't much of a rapper, either.
He is a performer, and his performances rely on a carefully orchestrated give-and-take with the audience. These things take time.
Still, the bedroom lament "Amusement Park" and the raucous "Window Shopper" were delivered with aplomb, and Tony Yayo , also of G-Unit , took a couple of gangling strides up and down the stage, clad in a bullet-proof vest. Then 50 hummed a bar of "In Da Club," sang the self-explanatory refrain of his "Straight to the Bank" and Yayo's "So Seductive," asked the crowd if they loved him (they did), and quickly departed. Call it 50, condensed.
Other notables: A frenetic mini-set from R&B up-and-comer Lloyd, who arrived at the Tweeter Center wearing a mask, and surrounded by an equally skilled dance troupe. Lloyd had a good hold on the fans close enough to see the specifics of his routine; so did Bow Wow, a returning performer at the Summer Jam. At least half of the fun of watching the 20-year-old comes from remembering his debut in a skit on Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle," and contrasting it with his current stage style, which consisted partly of an extended lap-dance, perpetrated on a lucky fan.