My 2000s Playlist Tour brings timeless hip-hop hitmakers to Bridgestone Arena

·5 min read

Nearly a quarter-century after it reached top-ten status on Billboard's Hot 100 charts, Queens, NY-born rapper Ja Rule still performs his 2000-released single "Put It On Me" as if he's suplexing it -- with the charisma, power and strength of a professional wrestling champion -- from his six-pack muscled abdomen

Between him and headliner Nelly, the My 2000s Playlist tour that stopped at Lower Broadway's Bridgestone Arena on Saturday evening featured a dozen artists responsible for almost 100 million albums sold -- in many cases, the previously noted artists included -- they impressively appeared in better mental and physical condition than they did in their heyday two decades prior.

For the better part of over six hours, songs highlighting why hip-hop's pop crossover keyed the music industry achieving its physical unit-selling peak between 1995-2005 boomed throughout the home of the Nashville Predators.

"Smashville" -- as many artists called Music City, using its nickname during the event -- knows how to party. At present, wild partying keyed by a decade of "bro-country" music's pop-crossover mainstream rise occurs on Lower Broadway seven days a week.

That being said, in Nashville, hearing Nelly perform the rap sections of his 14-time platinum-equivalent selling Florida Georgia Line duet "Cruise" at the strike of midnight hits differently when it's occurring three blocks away from a bar bearing the country duo's name -- where "Cruise" is entirely likely to be heard there -- or near there, at the same time.

Nelly's "Country Grammar" (and yes, he still "runs more game than the Bulls and Sonics") has been contributing to rap-inspired country music for twice as long as he's achieved platinum-selling mainstream hip-hop success. Thus, when he slows down his bars on 2020-released "Lil Bit," his most recent country smash -- and Florida Georgia Line's last hit as a pair -- they achieve the moment of noting just how far and broad the scope of 2000s-era rap has expanded:

"From the front to the back, hip-hop or the hoedown / Got the game on the go route / I'm the black Tom Brady in this, I'm the G.O.A.T. now (haha) / Shawty, I'm so wow / Orleans out to SoCal / Better know now."

R&B divas were also present at the event. In the case of Ashanti, the now 42-year-old singer-songwriter highlighted that 21 years later, her debut single "Foolish" still holds a place in the Gunness Book of World Records as the highest first-week sales for a female artist's debut ever. In addition, the song spent 17 weeks in the top 10 and was ranked the second-best performing single of 2002.

If you are wondering if she still has the vocal range to perform it, she out-sang 15,000 fans with a voice both bolder and brighter than at her sales peak.

Notable too, "one (and a few minor) hit wonders" like Amerie -- if judging from the crowd gathered at Bridgestone Arena, still know her percussion-laden 2005 No. 1 hit "1 Thing," plus its video choreography, verbatim -- or regional rap titans like Atlanta duo the Ying Yang Twins ("Wait (The Whisper Song)"), Houston's Mike Jones ("Back Then"), St. Louis' Chingy ("Right Thurr") and J-Kwon ("Tipsy") and R&B hitmakers like Lloyd ("Get It Shawty") are timelessly iconic.

The smiles on all of those artists' faces upon realizing songs they likely made at the peak of their joy for achieving unimaginable fame are still beloved as foundational elements of people's best-had times worldwide, allowed the more profound value of this event to appear.

Yet still, for acts like New York's Fabolous (five top-ten singles between 2001-2005, plus debut hit "Can't Deny It," featuring Nate Dogg) and Fat Joe ("Lean Back"), highlighting the songs that built their generation-spanning work proved fulfilling. Joe noted that he's one of the few acts performing who had survived multiple bankruptcies before serving a snippet of his French Montana, Infared and Rema Ma-featuring 2016 release "All The Way Up." The single was the most recent of a dozen top-10 hits in his 30-year mainstream music career.

To place the evening in the proper context, the songs these hip-hop stars performed often featured samples from legendary artists whose stardom is likely widely believed to eclipse the artist who sampled them. However, take one look at the sales success of both the classic and modern rap versions of the same tracks and the true star power of 2000s hip-hop appears.

Stevie Wonder's 1982-released "Do I Do" peaked at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard soul chart and No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. On the Billboard dance chart, "Do I Do" hit No. 1 for two weeks. Likewise, Ja Rule's "Livin' It Up" samples "Do I Do." It was a top-five single on multiple Billboard charts and No. 6 on the Hot 100. Patti LaBelle's 1983 "Love, Need and Want You" peaked at No. 10 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart.

Nelly's 2002 Kelly Rowland duet "Dilemma" samples LaBelle's top-ten hit.

"Dilemma" peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for ten non-consecutive weeks -- replacing Nelly's previous single "Hot in Herre" in that position. The song also topped the charts throughout Europe, plus won a Grammy award for Best Rap/Sung Performance and was nominated for a Record of the Year Grammy.

In Nashville, it's often believed that a great song eclipses a standard more potent than the test of time. The My 2000's Playlist event proved -- yet again -- that adage as more accurate than ever.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: My 2000s Playlist Tour brings timeless hip-hop hitmakers to Bridgestone Arena