Lil Wayne Affirms Legend Status at Harlem Apollo Theater Show – Billboard
Written by GRB on 17/04/2023
Sunday night (April 16) wasn’t the first time Lil Wayne touched the famed Apollo Theater stage, but Weezy’s Welcome to Tha Carter Tour rumbled through Harlem to close out the seasonably warm weekend in the Big Apple in style.
The curtain dropped around 9:15 p.m. ET at the intimate venue and the thick smoke clouds began to form as the New Orleans rap deity emerged with a Jesus piece chain dangling around his neck. Weezy opened with the JAY-Z-assisted “Mr. Carter,” which took fans back to when Wayne and Hov were jockeying for the best rapper alive title in the late 2000s.
Wayne went through his humbling concert routine letting the people know “I ain’t s–t without you” before reflecting on the first time he hit the Apollo stage.
“I don’t know if it was the last time, but I know the first time I stepped on this actual stage, [Showtime at] The Apollo was still an actual show that came on television and I was on that motherf—er,” he recalled. “I think Shemar Moore was hosting it, but I was there though.”
Flanked by DJ T. Lewis and a drummer, Weezy breezed through an array of tracks from his decorated Tha Carter series while jogging the memory of the 1,500-person capacity crowd with songs including “Fireman,” “Blunt Blowin,’” “Hustler Musik,” and the Kanye West-produced “Let the Beat Build” booming through the venue speakers.
The 40-year-old found a groove inside his colossal Tha Carter III album with a medley of the triumphant “3 Peat,” “Comfortable,” “Lollipop,” and “Mrs. Officer” as attendees were hit with a laser beam light show and a heavy dose of 2008 nostalgia, at time when Weezy sat atop the rap food chain at the peak of his powers.
Wayne pressed pause 45 minutes into his set and teased a few special guests, but instead of reuniting with Drake or Nicki Minaj, fans were greeted by Young Money rappers Drizzy P, Euro, Lil Twist, and Mellow Rackz.
The jubilant energy seemed to be drained during the 15-minute intermission, but in fairness to the YM artist cameos, it’s nearly impossible to be thrown into the fire in the midst of a set from one of the greatest catalogs in rap and keep the party rolling. But when Wayne returned around 10:15 the crowd perked up like they’d just collectively downed a Red Bull to get amped for the stretch run.
Mixtape Weezy took centerstage as Dedication 2‘s lyrical masterclass “Cannon,” DJ Capcom’s “I’m Going In” featuring a then-neophyte Drake, The Leak EP’s “I’m Me,” and No Ceilings cut “Shoes” were added as setlist surprises. All that was missing were the fan-favorites “Something You Forgot” and “The Sky is the Limit.”
With all of the Verzuz chatter surrounding the Young Money honcho battling 50 Cent, Weezy’s tour set served as a stark reminder that he can go 40-deep into different bags and eras of his hall-of-fame career to compete with anyone, whether it’s commercial hits, syrupy mixtape anthems that went diamond in the streets, or prolific features.
Wayne is one of the only artists that can have a competitive Verzuz battle with himself, having “Mixtape Weezy” and other memorable loosies that exist on the internet face-off against his own albums and primary streaming service catalog.
Cam’ron surprised his hometown Harlem crowd when the Dipset rapper made an unexpected cameo in a silver tracksuit to team up with Weezy to perform their 2006 “Touch It Or Not” collaboration for the first time ever. Even more impressive, Wayne remembered his verse from the raunchy tune like he’d rehearsed it for weeks.
“Weezy, I love you! It’s the first time we ever performed this, n—a,” Killa Cam stated to Wayne before exiting.
The finish line was in sight for Wayne heading into the final turn jumping from Young Money’s “Every Girl” to his feature on French Montana’s “Pop That” as well as “HYFR” and “The Motto,” sans Drake.
Weezy fittingly capped off the marathon 40-track set with the 8x-platinum “A Milli” and even took off his long-sleeve shirt to match the fervor of his wall-to-wall Tha Carter III anthem’s rhymes.
“F–king thank you, man! Every single one of y’all, man,” he said to the crowd before recognizing the droves of fans sporting his mug on their bodies. “I see people with my face on they shirts and s–t. I appreciate you!”
Wayne wrapped up around 10:45 p.m. ET with Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” serving as the outro music, but he couldn’t leave before going over his three rules one last time.
“I must let you know three important things about myself. No. 1 is I know that we all ain’t s–t without the love from above. No. 2 is I ain’t s–t without you. Ladies and gentlemen, what’s No. 3,” Wayne asked the audience who wasted no time shouting rule No. 2 right back at him in the midst of a standing ovation.
The Welcome to Tha Carter Tour continues Monday night (April 17) with a show in Philadelphia followed by stops in Silver Spring, Maryland and Charlotte.