Talk about the ultimate tease. All weekend leading up to last night's Monster Jam concert, Lil Wayne basically set up camp on sponsoring radio station JAM'N 94.5.
For the morning commute, there was Wayne's "Lollipop." At lunchtime, you had his other big hit, "A Milli," and on the drive to the show, the station played the Game's "My Life" featuring - who else? - Lil Wayne.
The rapper was everywhere - except on stage at the TD Banknorth Garden last night.
Lil Wayne was second-to-last on the bill, but he didn't show up. No one gave the audience an explanation, but reporters were later told that Lil Wayne didn't make it through security and decided to leave the building. It's not the first time this has happened; something similar reportedly went down at Fashion Week in New York last month.
So the show went on, though the sold-out crowd was none too happy about it. Only the other headliner could possibly salvage the night.
Let's get this right: Jay-Z should never be thought of as a consolation prize, but it almost felt like that at the end of his set when he had to counter the audience's chants of "We want Weezy" (Lil Wayne's nickname). Almost as a peacemaker, Jay-Z played an extra 20 minutes, at one point getting behind the turntables and mixing it up alongside DJ AM, who's performing again after a near-fatal plane crash last month.
Jay-Z's 90-minute set was explosive, and a startling reminder of just how many hits he's had: "99 Problems," "I Just Wanna Love You (Give It to Me)," "Can I Get a," "Say Hello," "Show Me What You Got," and "Can I Live."
He interrupted "Blue Magic" for an a cappella rap that was as powerful as any of the thunderous beats his full band conjured. As an image of President Bush hovered on the overhead screens, he rhymed about the government's disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina.
"Boston, are you ready for change?" he asked as Barack Obama's image got the crowd worked up.
Earlier in the evening, Ne-Yo took serious pride in the whole performance package, zigzagging his legs across stage in a sharp suit and fedora. Bolstered by a new hit album, "Year of the Gentleman," Ne-Yo rolled through hits that doubled as sing-alongs: "Miss Independent," "Closer," and "Sexy Love."
R&B singer Brandy was the odd woman out on the lineup, and even she seemed to think so. Before each of her modest hits from the late '90s ("The Boy Is Mine," "Have You Ever"), she asked the audience if they remembered them.
Rapper Yung Berg got just 10 minutes, and that felt about right. You don't need much time to ask that the "sexy ladies make some noise."
James Reed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.