Taking a one-day breather off headlining the Kings of the Mic Tour, veteran emcee LL Cool J breezed into Day 3 of Summerfest to play to a near capacity crowd at the BMO Harris Pavilion. The 45-year-old performed his songs with energy, but on balance the 60-minute show felt more like mixtape than a true show.
From start to finish, LL Cool J touched on 22 songs â€“ quite a number â€“ but he did not perform all of them start to finish. Interestingly, the start ("Mama Said Knock You Out") and the finish ("Rock The Bells") were the best parts of the show.
In between was a mix of veteran stage savvy and showmanship. He played to his age, making (too many) references to old school fashion and car choices as lead-ins to his older material. Itâ€™s an unnecessary trick â€“ his classics are just that â€“ but it did entertain and get people buzzing in anticipation of which "old school" song would be played.
DJ Z-Trip, who came with him off the Kings of the Mic Tour, freshened up two older tracks with interesting, high energy beats. "Rampage," which LL Cool J guested on with EPMD, was rapped over a sampling of the Monday Night Football instrumental. And, "Big Ole Butt" was played over the famous bassline of Dennis Edwardsâ€™ "Donâ€™t Look Any Further." (If youâ€™re a 2Pac fan, "Hit â€˜Em Up")
If rap could ever have a crooner, itâ€™d be LL Cool J with his bevy of female-friendly hits â€“ and he did not disappoint in the theatrics. He brought out roses and tossed them to the crowd in during those songs. The performance though left many of the women I was around disappointed however, specifically when "I Need Love" and "Hey Lover" were sort of pushed together near the end of the show and broken up with a needless Michael Jackson dedication.
He also brought up about 20 women and five gentlemen to have a "house party" on the stage, and while it seemed great for them, he sort of lost the crowd. It didnâ€™t help that he transitioned out of that to a deep cut ("Get Down") off his second solo album, "Bigger and Deffer."
He only played one song off his new record, "Authentic," which was actually somewhat disappointing. For some reason he told the crowd they hadnâ€™t heard "Whaddup" because the radio wonâ€™t play music anymore â€“ never mind that he closed the Grammys with that song, which features Chuck D.
If I had to pick a new track to have to introduced to the crowd, it wouldâ€™ve been "Bath Salts" â€“ but again â€“ this was LL Cool J knowing his audience. This isnâ€™t his tour. He knew that this crowd would want to hear his hits, and thatâ€™s what he provided. Though, he did make sure to wear a T-shirt that read "Authentic" across the front and "In Stores Now" across the back.
So, it was either that or the chilly air that led the muscled rapper to keep his shirt on the entire night.
Overall, it was a solid show and my complaints are relatively nit-picky. He got to the hits, did it with gusto and everyone seemed happy. As for his guests, DJ Z-Trip was amazing (laying "The Message" over the original Super Mario Brothers beat was bananas) and opener Terry Sims was solid, too.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jim Owczarski
Published April 27, 2015
Tyler Thornburg has been pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers since 2012, but last year was to be his first as a full-time reliever. He started well, but was then lost for the year with an elbow injury. He is back and healthy at the start of 2015 and hopes to prove, again, that he belongs in the majors.
Published April 23, 2015
Some many call him a question mark in the Milwaukee Brewers lineup, but Khris Davis was feeling confident about himself and the team as the 2015 campaign got underway.
Published April 21, 2015
As the Milwaukee Bucks attempt to lock up a playoff berth in the final few games of the year, second-year forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is proving to many that he can be a force to be reckoned with. You see the action on the court, now, but it was the lonely hours in the gym before his family arrived from Greece last year that laid the foundation.
Published April 17, 2015
It was one year ago today that former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl introduced Wes Edens and Marc Lasry to the city of Milwaukee as the new owners of the Bucks franchise. The pair would not, formally, be considered the owners by the league for a few weeks yet - but the press conference on April 16, 2014 signaled the start of a new era. A lot has happened in 365 days. Read on for some of the big moments.
Published April 15, 2015
Jabari Parker hasn't played a game for the Milwaukee Bucks since Dec. 15, 2014, and he may not play another one until that date later this year. Or maybe slightly before. Or after. It's the great on-court unknown for the franchise. But what if he didn't get hurt? It's possible that his injury affected more than just the team - it could've swayed public sentiment regarding the arena.
Published April 13, 2015
As the spotlight widens on the ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks and politicians around the state regarding the construction of a new Downtown arena, the Milwaukee Admirals have been left in the shadows. As of now, there are no plans to have the Admirals as a part of the new multi-purpose arena.
Published April 10, 2015
OnMilwaukee.com Sports Editor Jim Owczarski is taking off on a new adventure, leaving the Cream City after over three years. It's been fun, very memorable, and full of fun people, places, drinks and food. On his way out, he shares with you some of his favorites in all of those categories.
Published April 9, 2015
Believe it or not, we are now closer to a decade removed from Tiger Woods' last major championship than we are to his last run of sustained dominance in the game. The greats, always, lose their edge and become shadows of what they were. But Woods' decline was so sudden, the game hasn't quite yet recovered.
Published April 8, 2015
The ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks officially unveiled the images and the plans for not only a new arena, but for an entertainment district just north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Published April 7, 2015
Ryan Braun was pulled early from the Milwaukee Brewers' 10-0 Opening Day loss with a strain in his right side, but the former MVP got some good news Tuesday in that he did not suffer any major damage in his rib cage area.