A lone drummer sat on stage in front of a crowd of Slippery Rock students and fans as they chanted for the star of the show. The lights changed effects and a DJ joined the drummer behind his table. Seconds later, the Aebersold Recreation Center went into an uproar as rapper Lil Wayne (born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.) walked onto the stage in a Rock Adidas basketball jersey with the number 17 on it and stood there smiling in front of hundreds of screaming fans.
The multi-million-dollar recording artist opened the show with his self-titled song “Mr. Carter” from his triple-platinum certified album “Tha Carter III.” The bass shook the entire gym.
Wayne went on to perform his classic hits “Got Money” (Tha Carter III, 2008) and “I’m Goin’ In” (Drake-So Far Gone, 2009) before delivering a message of appreciation to his fans.
“I haven’t put out an album in four years,” Lil Wayne said while on stage. “And, y’all still rocking with me like I’m a new artist.”
While the artist hasn’t released an album since “I am not a Human Being II” (2013) and a mixtape since “No Ceilings 2” (2015), Rock fans were reciting lyrics to classic songs from his earlier music like it just came out.
SRU was the sixth of nine stops on the artist’s “Kampus Krash Tour.”
Slippery Rock was a change of pace for the artist. Prior to performing at The Rock, the tour stopped at the University of Florida, Georgia State University, West Virginia University and the University of Rhode Island before making its way to western Pennsylvania. Slippery Rock is the third smallest school on the tour.
Members of the tour said they enjoy the smaller crowds just as much as they do the large crowds. While Lil Wayne would not take questions, his DJ, who goes by the stage name of DJ T. Lewis, and drummer, known as Yayo the Drummer, both said that they just enjoy meeting new people and giving them an experience they wouldn’t normally get.
“We’re reaching out to the people who aren’t able to get to everyday shows,” T. Lewis said. “An artist of this caliber and this big, you don’t get to just see that every day.”
Slippery Rock was not only special for the size, but for its name. The artist used the name “Rock” as a segue to announce his signing to music mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation during the performance.
Lewis said it’s a great feeling performing with who he called the greatest artist of our time.
“I’ve been doing shows for a while,” T. Lewis said. “People know his music and are rocking with you. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Yayo the Drummer agreed. He said he never takes any performance for granted.
“Going new places and trying new food, it’s amazing every day I do it,” Yayo said. “I appreciate any chance we get to influence people.”
Lil Wayne was joined by a number of other artists.
He brought four up-and-coming artists to perform during his set, and also invited longtime friend and Young Money artist Mack Maine on the stage to rap his verse from the record label’s self-titled compilation album’s hit single “Every Girl.”
The show was opened by rappers Cyhi the Prynce and Bas. The artists are signed to rappers Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music and J. Cole’s Dreamville records, respectively.
Cyhi, a native of Stone Mountain, Ga., went first. The Grammy-nominated songwriter has been active since 2005 and has been credited for writing hit songs for Kanye West such as “All Day,” “Famous” and “Ultralight Beam.”
He was the first artist to perform. Cyhi was not the headline of the show but performed like he was. He said that he uses the tour to learn from Lil Wayne and to get his name out there even more.
“It’s amazing being able to study him,” Cyhi said. “People come to hear his music, but then they hear you and they’re like, ‘dang your music is dope too.’”
After a number of performances and a set full of decades of music from the 20-year veteran, Lil Wayne ended his performance with “No Worries” (I am not a Human Being II, 2013). Yayo the Drummer said it’s his favorite song to perform.
“I can relate to it the most,” Yayo said.
The drummer’s love for the song showed in his performance. Before the song ended, Lil Wayne and Yayo were shirtless, jumping around on stage and joined by an entourage of the Young Money Crew before walking off, leaving SRU students with a performance they would not forget.