50 Cent
The biggest ticket this summer for even a casual fan of commercial rap has to be the Roc the Mic tour featuring heavyweights Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Busta Rhymes, along with smaller acts Fabolous, Sean Paul, and Obie Trice. Back in May, Roc the Mic broke the record for first-day sales of any summer tour ever, a far cry from 1984, when the legendary Swatch Watch-sponsored Fresh Fest tour (featuring Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, Whodini, and the Fat Boys) brought in $3.5 million over 27 dates. Showcasing a stable of testosterone fueled MCs, this tour's sleeper highlight could be Daz Dillenger, who basked in the G-funk era of the mid-'90s as part of Death Row's Tha Dogg Pound.

Despite going platinum many, many times over and being recognized as rap music's reigning MC, Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z, has never really lived up to the promise of his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt. With nine albums in eight years, Jay-Z has built his foundation on quantity, and has successfully traced the paths of Russell Simmons, Sean Combs, and Percy Miller to become the modern era hip-hop mogul. As part of his Roc the Mic set, fans can expect hits like "Hard Knock Life," and the Texas-themed "Big Pimpin'," along with abbreviated takes on classics including "Can't Knock the Hustle."


Friday, August 1
224-9600 or
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
16765 Lookout Rd. 657-8300
With the artistic and financial blessings of Andre Young and Marshall Mathers, 50 Cent is the latest in a long line of MCs (DMX, Ja Rule, Trick Daddy) to strategically bite Tupac Shakur's style. Recognized as the first significant artist to come up via the mix tape, 50 Cent emerged from the New York underground replete with bullet scars and a background in street pharmaceuticals. By capitalizing on Eminem's unyielding fan base, he has transformed his mush-mouthed delivery into the hottest thing since, well, Nelly; all the while lacking the guile and resonance that Shakur brought to the game.

Since roaring onto the scene via A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" in 1991, Busta Rhymes (aka Trevor Smith) has remained hip-hop's most genuinely animated character. Teamed with visionary yet underachieving filmmaker Hype Williams, Busta, like Missy Elliot, has pushed the artistic boundaries of music videos to luminary heights. On wax he has perfected both the posse cut and cameo verse. These days, Busta seems more adept at crafting and appearing on hit singles that don't always outshine sub-par albums, yet he still delivers one of the genre's most dynamic live sets.

Fabolous, the youngster on the tour, is essentially Mase circa 1997, without the dimples and shiny suit. Resigned to his monotone flow, one can only hope that the bulk of his bubblegum raps will be reserved for the obligatory "official" after-party. •

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