Trying To Get My Hands On Some Grants Like Horace – The Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour – Oakland, CA

Bad Boy Family Reunion

Check out my review of the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour stop in Oakland.

On July 1, 1997, less than three months after the Notorious B.I.G. was murdered, Puff Daddy released his first and best album, No Way Out. Originally titled, Hell Up In Harlem, Puffy’s first album dominated the radio during a crazy time in the music scene. With Tupac and Biggie both gone, many thought Puffy was capitalizing on the fumes still burning from the East Coast/West Coast rap feud which was partially responsible for the death of the two biggest players in the rap industry. It didn’t help that his biggest record (and the third biggest song in 1997) from the album was a goodbye song to his friend.

Fast forward over 19 years and Puff Daddy’s music career has some long ass whiskers. Some might say his career has been over for some time, but every now and again, you hear a Puffy joint that is back on the radio like it’s 1997 or 1998 all over again. Coming Home was only six years ago though it feels much longer than that for some reason. The once Sean “Puffy” Combs (really, because he was a skinny dude who didn’t back down and puffed out his chest), then Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, and finally Diddy (before going back to Puffy) supposedly has one more album scheduled, titled No Way Out 2. Add his Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour and P. Diddy, who Biggie once said had the keys to the city, is in the stretch run of his supposed retirement.

I’ll admit that I had slight buyer’s remorse immediately after purchasing tickets to the concert in Oakland. Did I want to see two-and-a-half hours of Puffy in his shiny suit dancing all over the stage? It’s not insider’s knowledge that he’s never been even a half decent rapper. There’d been stories about Puffy concerts in the past where he’d forgotten lyrics and some of his televised performances have been less than impressive. But I will admit, often being a huge critic of his (even though I’ve probably listened to No Way Out no less than 100 times), he played his role in his own concert perfectly.

As much as you remember Puff Daddy the solo artist and mogul, he’s always been better as the sidekick. Even on No Way Out, he credited the album as Puff Daddy and the Family, rather than just by himself. He changed with 1998/1999′s Forever, which was awful, by the way. And on this tour, he’s nearly a sidekick. Or rather, all the acts are sidekicks and the crowd was the actual star. I’ve been to several concerts in Oakland, CA (starting with the New Kids On The Block in 1989, shhhh) and Oakland always represents.

The concert started about 90 minutes late, but it was a very measured decision. Or maybe it wasn’t and they couldn’t find Ma$e. Maybe Slim from 112 was gargling with salt water. From the 8PM start time until 9:30PM, the DJ was playing records from that late 90s time frame and the crowd turned it into one big Soul Train line. The place was barely half full at the time and for a second, I thought everyone was just dressed as empty chairs. Maybe Puffy knew that Oakland would be late arriving on a Friday night. But the crowd didn’t even care. It turned into the Bay Area’s biggest night club.

(By 9:30PM, the arena was full. They knew what they were doing.)

Roughly 90 minutes later, the concert started and the crowd was ready. Once it started, it was big reaction after big reaction. And this isn’t a diss toward Carl Thomas, but I don’t think my guy has received as big of an ovation as he got on Friday night, maybe ever. Oakland was ready for everyone.

Using Rocky’s Reward, a Bill Conti piece from the original Rocky movie soundtrack, PD opened the concert with a short video of his career. But it wasn’t that long until the sound of Victory, helped by the Going The Distance sample from the same Rocky movie soundtrack, hit the speakers. I still consider this song his peak. He’s had much bigger hits, but for me, this song was his masterpiece. He also did something interesting on the tail end. There’s three main verses on this song. He starts off, then he just danced while Biggie’s epic verse boomed.

(Real sick, raw nights, I perform like Mike/Anyone, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson/Action, pack guns, ridiculous)

But for the third verse, he rapped over Going The Distance, which for a Rocky romantic like myself, set it off like Queen Latifah and Vivica A. Fox.

This isn’t the exact Oakland concert, but it happened just like this.

He quickly segued into Bad Boy 4 Life, which was only one of two songs he performed all night from 2001′s The Saga Continues. Ma$e wanted Puff to get sexy at one point in the concert and that meant he performed I Need A Girl both parts one and two. The actual album track of I Need A Girl is different, but hey, we’re getting into too many specifics now.

Speaking of Money Ma$e, he came out to huge applause to tag team Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down, Puffy’s first ever single. They also went into Been Around The World, both the album track which featured J. Lo in the video, and the remix, which only the die-hards remember. Pop champagne like I won the championship.

Damn, J. Lo’s fine. I forgot Wyclef was in that video.

It was 112 time. My buddy said he saw 112 in San Francisco wearing Bad Boy jump suits during the day on Friday. That meant that A) they wanted to be noticed and B) they really wanted to be noticed. Oakland loved them.

They performed It’s Over Now, Dance For Me, and Peaches & Cream, leaving their biggest hit, Only You for later.

Total was out next and performed What You Want, which brought out Ma$e again (“Total” it all up and put it on my tab). They also performed Kissing You, saving Can’t You See for later in the show.

The Lox came out and out of the classic acts, they probably received the least amount of fanfare. It’s not their fault. The Lox never really fit in with Bad Boy. They released only one album while on Bad Boy, 1998′s Money, Power & Respect. Their first single interpolated Rod Stewart’s Da Ya Think I’m Sexy. How do you do that to an act from Yonkers? It didn’t take long for them to want their release from Bad Boy. Though, the title track of the album is tough and if DMX were in Oakland, I’m sure they would’ve tore it up. But alas, their only real moment on the show was when they joined Puffy late in the show for All About The Benjamins.

Carl Thomas was next and performed Summer Rain, I Wish, and then shared the stage with Faith Evans for Emotional.

If there was a star of the show, it had to be Faith Evans. She seemed most grateful to be on stage and soaked up every single moment. She was in great voice too. She performed I Love You, which I feel could be a hit today. She then performed You Used To Love Me, the aforementioned Emotional, and Soon As I Get Home.

French Montana, who didn’t really fit in, was next. But like I mentioned, this crowd was great. They tolerated him even though they didn’t really accept him. He’s a new jack and that’s not what this concert was about. For some reason, Miguel came out to sing Adorn. He didn’t really fit either, but I think the crowd enjoyed him. They probably thought he was El Debarge’s younger brother. Just kidding. They weren’t that old. They knew Miguel.

Bad Boy Family Reunion In a surprise of all surprises, Shyne, the Biggie soundalike rapper who was in jail for 8 years after an infamous night club shooting in which Puff and J. Lo got out of dodge, showed up on video. It wasn’t necessary, but it was a great touch. I figured he wouldn’t have stepped near anything Bad Boy related.

Lil’ Kim was a bit of a disappointment, but it was hard to be angry with her. Just based on how much she’s changed her look, it’s obvious there’s an issue going on there, but she had to be on this show. She was helped on just about every song by the tape of her own vocals. And while it was hard to see her as the same Queen Bee from 1996, she definitely tried. I popped for No Time, since I hadn’t heard that song in quite a long time.

In another surprise, Black Rob joined the fun with his hit Whoa. It was another great touch. Black Rob wasn’t going to sell any tickets unless he had family in attendance, but he was a true Bad Boy family member and it was great seeing him perform that song live. I only wish G-Dep was there so I could get my Harlem Shake on, but according to Wikipedia, he’s in jail.

Puff finished the concert with a few more hits, Biggie’s Mo Money, Mo Problems included.

At the end, he brought everyone to the stage to soak up the experience all at once, including his kids, who he let rhyme and dance for a little bit. Interestingly enough, he didn’t perform I’ll Be Missing You, which might be because he wasn’t sure how the visions of Tupac and Biggie together would’ve worked in Oakland. That’s just a guess on my end. He has performed it elsewhere on the tour.

Bad Boy Family ReunionThe key to this concert was that even though his name was on the marquee, Puff Daddy didn’t give us too much Puff Daddy. He was more like his original role with Biggie. He was around, but he wasn’t the focus. He was in all the videos, but not the center of attention. He was Mr. Uh Huh, Yeah rather than the focus of the show. And it worked perfectly. There was just enough Puff Daddy and enough everyone else to make it feel like it was a true reunion.

By the end of the show, it felt like there was something missing, but it was only because of who wasn’t there. I kept waiting for Danity Kane to show up. Okay, I’m kidding. The only thing missing that would’ve made this concert perfect was if B.I.G. was still alive. Sky’s the limit.

Puff Daddy deserves a lot of credit for putting together the perfect concert. It was exactly what the crowd wanted.

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