Rick Ross is young, rich and famous; he's an international player with so many hits under his belt they might account for his almost-sluggish performance last night at KS 1075's Summer Jam XV. Don't get us wrong -- the Bawse more than showed up and showed out, unleashing hit after hit to a heat-drenched Comfort Dental Amphitheatre crowd, but it gave him a workout. The entire event proved a few things: Wiz Khalifa is on his Steven Tyler swag, Big Sean is a walking double entendre and the influence of radio is back like it never left.
Sauntering onto the stage for a lights heavy "I'm a Boss," the crowd roared to life when Ricky Rozay hit the stage. His eyes hidden behind heavy dark shades, the diamonds on his damn chain gleaming like the eyes of a new-born, Ross eased into his set with heavy steps and light movement. It was inferno hot throughout the day in Denver and the Bawse was dripping sweat from the gate. With a little help from his deejay, they ripped into "I'm Not a Star," and "Yella Diamonds," before Ross took a minute to thank the crowd.
The set continued with the anthemic "Hustle Hard," which, while missing the plethora of artists featured on the remix, still prompted a full amphitheater to put their hands in the air. That cut served as the perfect segue into "All I Do is Win," which Ross let ride out with DJ Khaled's screaming instructions on background vocals. Saying he "felt so good here in Denver," the MC set it off to "I'm On One," toweling his face and intently watching the audience lose it.
The song "9 Piece" didn't garner as much enthusiasm from the crowd as "Aston Martin Music," the joint for the ladies, and "B.M.F," the cut for the gangsters. Giving the fans a taste of "So Sophisticated," a new track with Usher, Ross strangely turned his back to the crowd and chopped it up with his DJ for a moment while Usher's vocals played before re-joining the performance.
Leaving without rocking "Hustlin'" would have been blasphemous, and the crowd came alive with more fervor than they had the whole night when Ross queued up that track. Punctuating his performance with "Can I get a 'Rozay?!" to which the adoring crowd would respond with "Rozay!" Ross was commanding and convincing as a man about his money, his women and his gangster behavior. Sweating through his all black ensemble, Rick Ross might have battled the temperature and oxygen levels at this altitude, but in the end, he showed Denver who's boss.
Read on for Wiz Khalifa's set recap.
Prior to Ross's set, Wiz Khalifa came out with a scarf-wrapped microphone stand and turned the place into a rock show. Throwing his hands in the air, he rocked out with each member of his band and gave them shine as he connected with the crowd. With his dope, progressive rap style, Khalifa launched into his hits, "Cabin Fever," and "Reefer Party," before bringing out Chevy Woods for "It's a Party." And then after "Young and Wild and Free" and "5 a.m.," he dropped "On My Level" with Wale. Finishing up with "Roll Up," Wiz gave the crowd a taste of "Work Hard, Play Hard," a new single, before killing it with "Black and Yellow."
Most interesting thing about Wiz's set? He sang a lot...and it was more than good; it was great. Second most interesting thing? Although he mentioned "being on a pound of herb," there was no marijuana in site on stage with the MC.
Tyga and B.o.B. are on the next page.
Tyga gave an abbreviated version of the same performance he gave at the Ogden Theatre earlier this spring, and he was just as dynamic and energetic on stage. "Rack City" still goes harder than pavement and brings out the pretty girls baring their breasts. He rode security's shoulders into the crowd and got his rock star on to tracks like "YOLO," "Faded," the ever popular "Make it Nasty," and more. The crowd definitely wanted more Tyga, and with good reason: He killed it.
B.o.B, meanwhile, gave a performance that included thick back-up dancers and singers, and the MC taking his shirt off on numerous occasions. Looking like a clean-shaven Jimi Hendrix, B.o.B ran through his catalogue with the flair of a true pro. During "Ray Bans," money was thrown everywhere, the live rendition of "Airplanes" was soulful and "Strange Clouds" took his performance to the top.
Big Sean, Wale and our critic's notebook are on the next page.
Oh Big Sean. He certainly packs a lot of stamina, ferocity, and passion into such a small package. He performed the hits while wearing a ton of gold chains. My Last" was pitch perfect to the crowd, while, "Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay" proved to be the highlight of his set. Big Sean's got hits for days, and he performed many of them during his set, so no hate here. The crowd loved it, especially when he finished with "Mercy" and the ever ass-quake inducing, "Ass."
Wale was good on stage, as he has a tendency to be. Boasting of his credibility of having a track with "Lady Gaga," he did "Chillin'" and "Chain Music" with fervor, encouraging the crowd to tweet him using "chain music" as a hash tag. "Ambition" was the perfect segue into "Lotus Flower Bomb," a track that will forever keep the ladies happy in the crowd. The D.C. rapper made numerous appearances in Big Sean's set throughout the show.
The masses tend to have an attitude of non-conformist conformity when it comes to the criticism of mainstream radio, and some of it is certainly warranted. Last night, though, at the fifteenth edition of Summer Jam, it became quite clear that the naysayers are far outnumbered by those who take cues from radio for the trends and determining what's hot in music. The performances from Ross, Wiz Khalifa, Tyga, Big Sean and Wale, along with a pretty much sold-out crowd proves, what's hot in the streets, just might be what's on the airwaves.
Personal bias: M-m-m-m-m-Maybach Music.
By the way: If you think Mercedes Howard (aka Ya Girl Cedes from ks1075) is not a star, somebody lied.
Random detail: We missed Diggy and Kirko and Bei Major because they went on so damn early...and we were getting the typical pat and search at the door.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.