February 26, 2008

Cornell Gets Low

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Maggie: This will be an unbiased review because both reporters had never heard of T-Pain. Therefore, we had no preconceived notions and can just judge his Cornell appearance.

Maurice: T-Pain was nominated for a Grammy in 2008 for “Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group” and indeed, he has built a reputation on being “that singing guy” next to Akon, Kanye West and Chris Brown, among others. At this show, sadly, he failed to convince anybody that he was marketable as a solo artist.

Maggie: The show opened not with DJ UNK (to many peoples’ surprise) but with True 2 Life. True 2 Life is a band composed of upbeat Cornell alumni. Their performance was nice because they talked us up about Cornell in Risley Hall.

Maurice: True 2 Life is exactly what old-school hip hop is all about. They had the stellar early ’90’s beats. They had songs about how great they are (“You think I’m hot now? You ain’t even seen me. Just wait ’til my face is poppin’ on TV”).

They sounded like a bunch of friends hanging out in bright, trendy clothing. They had break dancers. I couldn’t see their shoes but those were probably pretty snazzy too — let’s just say they were Adidas or Nikes (Reebok?).

Maggie: It was really hard to see because of the roughly 3,500 people who attended, but the lights and the volume kept it fun. While waiting for T-Pain we listened to his DJ for a really, really long time. If I never hear “Where are all the sexy ladies? Throw your hands in the air” ever again, I will die content.

Maurice: I thought he was running through the entire year in music. We heard Justin, Kanye, Fergie and some other famous singers that weren’t T-Pain. We even heard Biggie. I’m guessing everyone had fun dancing, but making college kids happy with famous hip-hop tracks isn’t exactly the most difficult thing to do. Of course, both True 2 Life and this DJ had something that T-Pain couldn’t handle: complete songs.

Maggie: Finally the point of the night came on stage. He had very elaborate rings and he was kind of strutting around. He started many songs, but only got about 26 seconds into them and then they would be “turned off.” The rhythm would turn into banter about some very unimportant thing and they would shout a little. Then a new song would start, and the cycle would be repeated.

Maurice: Yes. It was like a frat party where that guy with the iPod keeps getting bored and only wants to listen to the hooks of each song. Everyone else just wants to dance, but that doesn’t matter to that guy, who just wants to impress everyone with how many songs he knows. Of course, “Get Low” (the song about apple bottom jeans) got an impressive “two” on the play count, but otherwise the performance was just one halted groove after another.

Having never heard T-Pain, I was self-conscious (you too, Maggie?) criticizing him, but everyone seemed to be at least a bit annoyed by the iTunes clip setlist.

Maggie: Essentially, this concert was a huge frat party, but without the alcohol (so maybe it could never be a frat party?). There were tons of boys bopping around, lots of grinding and making out. It was loud, hot and crowded.

The problem was that each time the song abruptly changed, the dancing would stop, and by the time everyone resumed bumping and grooving, the song would change again. Maybe we just should have gone to a frat? That drunk iPod boy isn’t always there.

Usually the “opening band” is “worse” than what they are introducing. But in this case, True 2 Life carried songs all the way though, even though they were short. And although we think they should cut down on the unnecessary banter between tunes, they were A-OK.

As for T-Pain, we wish that he could have just humored us enough to play “Get Low” the whole way through.

Maurice: True 2 Life, who deserve the focus of this review, made music that sounded like your friends having a fun old-school party on stage, with all of the friendly back-patting and excited performing that you would expect from your best friends if they had made it in the hip-hop world and wanted to tell you about how fun it has been. Unlike T-Pain, these guys didn’t need anybody other than each other to put on a fantastic set, and I think most of us felt the love.