The hip hop legend brought N.W.A., Ice-T and more to Van Andel Arena during a busy week of tour stops and local shows in front of enthused West Michigan audiences. Photo galleries exclusively at Local Spins.
Saturday marked Ice Cube’s first visit to Grand Rapids, but after the party that ensued during his set, the legendary rapper vowed: “It won’t be my last.”
Indeed, the West Coast made quite the splash in the Third Coast at Van Andel Arena with a star-studded crew of performers which included West Coast hip hop pioneers Ice T, Tha Dogg Pound and Ice Cube’s N.W.A. bandmates MC Ren and DJ Yella.
While most of the talent on display had never been to West Michigan, the rappers made an immediate connection with the rambunctious audience, which danced and sang along to hit song after hit song.
Opening the show was Cleveland rapper AMG. Backed by a large crew hype men, AMG set the bar early for the level of energy that every succeeding performer expected out of the crowd. AMG’s 1991 hit “Betta Have My Money” has been prominently sampled and reworked so many times, Saturday’s audience may have thought they were hearing a cover when it was performed as a closer.
Nonetheless, the audience exploded in excitement.
WEST COAST MEETS THE THIRD COAST
The crowd really began to fill out when Tha Dogg Pound took the stage. The charming duo of Kurupt and Daz Dillinger displayed some serious chops, and percussively rapped through material spanning their 25-year career, including their 1995 debut, “Dogg Food.”
Tha Dogg Pound was just the beginning of what Ice T later remarked was somewhat of a family reunion. Ice T took the stage referring to himself as “old school.” While the 60-year-old rapper, actor and record executive may be old school in terms of wisdom, he performed with the machismo and energy of a young man.
Ice T also joked that younger folks in the audience may know him better as Detective Fin Tutuola, who he’s played on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for 20 years. That character couldn’t be more different from Ice T, who gave a loud and aggressive performance to rounds of cheers and applause.
At this point in the show, it was quite the party on stage and off. The vibe in the arena seemed light-hearted, at least until Ice Cube and N.W.A. began their set with a montage of footage and photos from the early days of N.W.A. The music that followed was more serious lyrically and somehow, more vigorous in energy than the other performers.
To see Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella perform together was thrilling. When the trio opened with “Straight Outta Compton,” the audience erupted, many raising their hands up with the West Coast “W” symbol. N.W.A. had reunited (at least partially) to re-live musical history.
The impressive — albeit short — N.W.A. set also featured a heartfelt dedication to Eazy-E, who, along with Dr. Dre, round out N.W.A.’s original lineup.
A REAL FAMILY REUNION
Things got even more surreal when Ice Cube introduced a surprise guest: his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. Together, the father-son duo performed Ice Cube hits including “It Was A Good Day” and “Check Yo Self.”
Jackson portrayed his father in the critically-acclaimed 2015 film “Straight Outta Compton.” That likeness was just as uncanny in Grand Rapids as it is on screen. When it comes to stage presence and vocal ability, the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Of course, fans may have been expecting material from Ice Cube’s long awaited new album, “Everything’s Corrupt.” For the follow up to 2010’s “I Am The West,” those fans will have to keep waiting as Cube’s Grand Rapids performance didn’t feature any new music.
And while the audience may have left still hungry for more of Ice Cube the rapper, they certainly didn’t get the comedic actor or entrepreneur most folks have come to know over in recent years.
With his middle finger in the air, this was vintage, N.W.A.-style Ice Cube.
The entire “family” of West Coast legends joined Ice Cube for a finale filled with hugs and roars of applause from the crowd. From young folks who learned about this scene from the “Straight Outta Compton” movie to those who were around when it really happened, the concert was a raucous celebration of a hugely influential scene.
PHOTO GALLERY: Ice Cube, N.W.A., Ice-T, Tha Dogg Pound, AMG
Photos by Anthony Norkus
THE REST OF THE MUSIC WEEK
Photo gallery and full review of L7 at The Pyramid Scheme (Monday): L7 gets lean, loud, vicious and unapologetically raucous in Grand Rapids tour stopTha
Photo gallery and full review of Dispatch at Meijer Gardens, Frank Turner at Bell’s Brewery (Monday): Dispatch, Nahko bring rain, harmony to Meijer Gardens; Frank Turner breaks the rules in Kalamazoo
PHOTO GALLERY: Erasure, Reed & Caroline at 20 Monroe Live (Wednesday)
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Photo gallery and full review of Jason Mraz & Brett Dennen at Meijer Gardens (Wednesday): Jason Mraz puts on poppy, positive, personal spectacle for tour kickoff in Grand Rapids
PHOTO GALLERY: The Beach Boys at Meijer Gardens (Thursday)
Photos by Ryan Miller