‘Up Close and Personal’ tour brings array of hip-hop’s young and talented to Miami (online exclusive)

Have you ever heard what it’s like to hear thousands of teenage girls screaming at the top of their lungs (Mariah Carey-type octaves) in unison? Well, if you haven’t, I wouldn’t recommend it. Pandemonium was almost experienced inside the walls of the American Airlines Arena Thursday, September 7, when two of R&B’s hottest new male artists, Ne-Yo and Chris Brown, brought their ‘Up Close and Personal’ tour to Miami. Since there were so many artists on the bill, here is a recap of the show’s highlights:

The latest additions to the tour, Lil’ J and new act from Usher’s US/J Records label, One Chance, opened up the show with short sets.

The only act holding it down for the ladies was Jazzy Pha’s Shonuff/Capitol Records quartet Cherish. The sisters from Atlanta represented well, performing a very choreographed set that really got the crowd hyped and they concluded their set with their hit single “Do It.”

Atlanta was represented once again on the tour with the originators of snap music -Dem Franchize Boyz. If you don’t know what snap music or the snap movement is, you are out of touch with pop culture. With the whole crowd on its feet, DFB brought a lot of energy to the stage properly showing the audience how to ‘snap’ to their songs such as “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It.”

Not too many rappers can call themselves the “best rapper alive” and expect not to be criticized. Lil’ Wayne is one of them. Over the years, he has gone from being unknown to becoming one of the premiere faces of hip-hop. Whatever song Wayne performed, the audience was right there to rap his every lyric. Shaquille O’Neal and Fat Joe could be seen on the sides of the stage showing their support. And finally, toward the end of the set, Wayne revealed his more humble side, thanking the audience for their support.

The first headliner up was Ne-Yo who has enjoyed a considerable amount of success with his debut album In My Own Words. With a live band and five female back up dancers, Ne-Yo proved that not only is he a talented songwriter/singer, but he knows a thing about performing. It was obvious that he studied the likes of Michael Jackson and Usher, but Ne-Yo added a flavor of his own to his routine. His set included performances of “So Sick” and he concluded his set with his current hit single “Sexy Love.”

By audience reaction, Chris Brown was the man everyone came to see. Before the show, Chris could be seen in his dressing room getting a new tattoo but when it came time to hit the stage, he gave the audience all he had. With an energetic set that found Chris dancing rigorous choreographed sets, Chris performed songs such as “Gimmie That,” “Yo (Excuse Me Miss),” and even paid tribute to Michael Jackson as he moon walked across the stage. Some say, he’s the future of R&B; some even say that he will one day take Usher’s throne. Whatever the future holds, you can rest assure that he is here to stay.

Marcus Washington can be contacted at m.washington2@umiami.edu