ti_web.jpgMIAMI — The Live Your Life Tour commandeered the American Airlines Arena Friday, Feb. 27

T.I, Jeezy, Sean Paul and Lloyd took the stage for the Miami leg of the tour, and after a slow start, the headliners came on strong and closed the show.

By the time Jeezy hit the stage, the crowd was thoroughly motivated. Jeezy bills himself as a thug motivator, and there may be some truth to the moniker. I sat next to a young man who rapped Jeezy’s lyrics with the sincerity of daily affirmations.

Jeezy performed all his major hits and snippets of the album fare only true fans would know. After suffering through Lloyd’s attempts at crooning in an arena that was three-quarters full, Jeezy’s loud, big, dramatic tunes were a welcomed alternative. The big horns on “Get Allot” and “Trapstar” filled the arena as Jeezy covered the distance of the stage, rapping with ease.

I was anxious to hear a live rendition of “My President.” The crowd erupted as Jeezy rapped, “My president’s black, my Lambo’s blue…” Nas joined Jeezy on stage to rap his verse of the song celebrating the rise of a black man to the highest job in the land while simultaneously celebrating the rise of a common criminal to a top-notch entertainer.

Jeezy’s music focuses on his ascent out of the quagmire of the drug game and attempts to motivate other “thugs” to do the same. And the young man to my left bounced on his toes like a satisfied delegate at a Tony Robbins seminar. From Jeezy’s motivation to T.I’s example, the concert could have been a stay-out-of-jail youth rally.

T.I is set to enter federal prison in the coming months. The six-time Grammy winner pleaded guilty to weapons charges last March. His latest album, “Paper Trail” focuses on his realization that he must change his life and habits to preserve the new life he has created.

T.I’s set closed the show, and while he performed with unbound energy, he also took time to speak to the audience in several witty and entertaining segues. The Live Your Life Tour serves as the rapper’s official farewell until he has served his year-and-a-day prison sentence, and the audience embraced him.

He rapped like it was his last show, though there are several more dates left on the tour. He cycled through his impressive catalogue. He danced. He gave his fans what they wanted. As I looked around the arena, most were on their feet for the duration of his set. He relished in the fact that seemingly everyone in attendance knew the lyrics to every song.

Hip-Hop shows can be strange animals. There’s a lot of waiting around. There are more DJs than actual performers, and the local opening acts can be a bit tedious. All of this puts the onus on the headliners to bring the show home and make it worth it. Jeezy and T.I made the night worth it.


Photo by Khary Bruyning. Rapper T.I.