T.I. may be from Atlanta, but he certainly knows how to throw a New York party. On Monday night (Aug. 16), the rapper performed his first full live show since his release from prison at New York's glamorous Capitale, to launch AXE Music's "One Night Only" concert series.
For nearly two hours, the "King of the South" treated the small crowd to a slew of hits and brought out fellow hip-hop and R&B stars Mary J. Blige, Cam'ron, Keri Hilson, B.o.B. and Swizz Beatz, among others.
Flanked by a five-piece backing band, T.I. exploded onstage in a dark-blue hoodie near 11 P.M. and knocked out furious renditions of "I'm Back," "Top Back" and "Rubberband Man." "I don't care where you're from -- North, South, East, West. You gotta be real if you wanna ride with me," T.I. snarled before running through "Ride Wit Me."
The rapper brought out "the king of Harlem," Cam'ron, who was quickly joined by Vado and Maino onstage. B.o.B. soon followed to sing the hook on Tip's "On Top Of The World" and roll out the raucous "Bet I," while T.I. removed his wife beater and showed off his abs.
As the music died down for a few minutes, T.I. thanked the fans in the New York area who wrote him letters while he was serving a prison sentence for gun charges last year. "I appreciate all the love y'all showed me," said T.I., "but there's still people behind that wall, with the same struggles every day. Give it up one time for my n***a Lil Wayne."
After showing his gratitude to sponsor AXE body spray ("All the ladies out there liking their men looking good and smelling better, make some noise," T.I. said with a smile), the rapper introduced Mary J. Blige as "the queen of R&B, the queen of hip-hop, the queen of New York." The two only shared the stage for two songs, including the R&B-pop jam "Good Love," but the pairing seemed to illicit the strongest cheers from the show's audience.
Swizz Beatz burst onstage afterward to deliver wall-rattling performances of "Fancy," "Bring 'Em Out" and "Swing Ya Rag," while Keri Hilson stopped by for two songs, including her new duet with T.I., "Got Your Back."
Sporting his second different polo T-shirt of the night, T.I. finished the show by tackling his two Hot 100 chart-toppers, "Whatever U Like" and "Live Your Life." Although he reminded the crowd that his crime drama "Takers" will be released Aug. 27, T.I. only vaguely alluded to his much-anticipated seventh album, saying that "King Uncaged" was simply "coming soon."
T.I.'s next scheduled performance is at Baltimore's Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2010 on Sept. 25.