Date: May 14, 2010
Location: Vics, Beijing.
In a week where I got highly sought-after tickets to the world premiere of an ancient Kunqu, the premiere of Francesca Zambello’s Carmen at the NCPA, and a rare recital by Li Yundi, I would be insane to believe that I could yet find another ticket that could top those. But I may just have: Fat Joe.
Fat Joe, to those uninitiated, is a top-class American rapper and the CEO/proprietor of Terror Squad, a successful record label. His music has occupied my various MP3 players since 2002, and his album, Elephant in the Room, while not exactly a huge commercial success, is a versatile anthology of hip-hop and one of my favorites. Even though Maria Callas is one of my favorite opera singers and though I have over a hundred of her CDs and DVDs, I can’t even claim to have collected half of her output. But I surely have every single record Fat Joe has ever produced and sung in. That attests to the kind of luvin’ I give to Fat Joe! I consider Fat Joe to be a master lyricist whose tight verses are rhythmically well matched up against fiery beats. In this performance in Beijing, he appeared for about 40 minutes, crisscrossing between older numbers and newer ones. His calling card, Lean Back, was smashingly thrilling and authoritative, and got the most ardent response from his fans, some of whom, standing close to me, were reciting the lyrics in near verbatim without missing a beat. During his performance of What’s Luv, he was visibly in a lovin’ groove, interacting with the house with an affectionate gaze. Between numbers, he showed off his tremendous MC skills by firing up and hustling the crowd. The crowd returned much love, eagerly and frenetically responding to Fat Joe’s calls. When Fat Joe talked about his jailed buddy and frequent collaborator, Lil Wayne, the crowd went nuts, obviously showing much sympathy and love, irrespective of his legal troubles.
Fat Joe’s appearance in Beijing was a rare gem because, according to his tweet, he was in Asia for the very first time in his career. Also, as far as I could remember, Fat Joe has never been a big fan of flying, and would opt for buses over airplanes whenever he tours North America (ok, if not flying, I’d seriously like to find out how he managed to get from NYC to Asia). This week, I did not meet Zambello, nor did I hustle with Stan Kwan. But I shoved aside plenty of fans – many half a decade or more younger than I – to get to the edge of the stage, and high-fived Joey Crack. Whatever Li Yundi does tonight is not going to beat that. Ya digg?