DALLAS Friday night at Gexa Energy Pavilion, Lil Wayne appeared like a man reborn.
Its an odd observation to make about someone who is all of 30, but the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum rapper has lived a lifetime in those years.
In March, he was hospitalized for a week after suffering a series of seizures, and rampant speculation lit up the Internet as to whether he would make it out alive.
But, he did recover (and revealed he has epilepsy), and during the Dallas stop of the Americas Most Wanted tour, seemed sharper than he has in years (reportedly, Lil Wayne has been sober since being jailed on gun charges in 2011).
Certainly, the New Orleans native was more engaged than two years ago, the last time I saw him perform.
He roared out of the gate on this cool summer evening with Im Goin In, a vintage Drake cut Weezy guested on, and kept up a steady pace for the next 90 minutes.
Backed by a four-piece band, a DJ, a handful of scantily clad back-up dancers and a small knot of skaters who cruised the ramps built into his stage set, Lil Wayne was simultaneously humble, offering profane thanks to the enraptured audience and surprise guest Erykah Badu, and alert, energized in a way he just wasnt two years ago.
He took staples like Lollipop and A Milli and made them feel brand new, while recent cuts like Rich as F packed just as much punch. It was a thoroughly magnetic performance, one delivered by an artist who has declared hell retire in five years, and seems determined to make the interim count.
The tour also featured a stylish, hour-long set from T.I., who packed plenty of razzle dazzle into his time on stage.
From crisply edited video interludes (including allusions to his own legal imbroglios) to powerhouse renditions of his hits (such as Whatever You Like and Bring Em Out) to snippets of his contributions to others singles (Robin Thickes Blurred Lines and Rihannas Live Your Life), T.I. was a commanding, engaging presence throughout.
2 Chainz kicked things off, with a 30-minute set stuffed with enough bass to shake ones eyeballs from their skull. He made sure to plug his forthcoming album, B.O.A.T.S II: Me Time, due out next month, and even offered a tribute to slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.