Diddy Dirty Money Tour
May 6, 2011
Better than: Not getting to study the science of weave-ology on a Friday night.
"I thought I told you that we won't stop!"
Friday night at the Warfield, Sean "Diddy" Combs, the artist formerly (and in our hearts still) known as Puff Daddy, took his familiar refrain to heart, issuing a more than three-hour concert that pranced at turns -- and featured a cameo from local polarizing rapper Lil B -- then dragged on until fans ultimately started trickling out of the building.
We appreciate that the choice to have three opening acts (local J. Valentine, Young Money rapper Tyga, and R&B star Lloyd) was an attempt to try to make people feel they got their money's worth. But Lloyd (who has been groomed for stardom since he was a little kid) was the only one who really brought a polished performance, including a more than respectable rendition of Michael Jackson's "Rock with You." The DJs for these three acts appeared to share their song collections, though; all managed to play the same four or five songs (including Too $hort's "Blow the Whistle," a nod to being in the Bay Area) after their act had done snippets and medleys from their handful of familiar tunes.
The opening sets were all taking so long that we started to wonder whether Puffy was still in, say, St. Barts or something, floating his way to S.F. on a yacht.
But no, he finally took the stage with Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper, his partners in the group Dirty Money. Richard was previously a member of Danity Kane, the girl group from Diddy's reality television series Making The Band, and was sporting a radical new weave -- a long Mohican complete with shaved sides. Harper was wearing a short dress that hid nothing, which made for some uncomfortable moments.
Combs, who has tried to rap throughout his career, actually attempts to sing on the Dirty Money album Last Train to Paris, and when not heavily obscured by Auto-Tune, we learned from this show that he's got a nice, gentle tone. His singing partners both have louder and more confident voices, but they've started to gel as a trio. A large screen projected giant images of Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, and Rick Ross doing their parts to their Last Train contributions, a clever way to bring them into the show.
After the ladies went offstage, Combs' 13-year-old lookalike son, Christian, who was sitting on someone's shoulders, got passed to the stage, where he was handed a mic and adorably sang and danced along to a medley of early Puff Daddy hits. This was one of the highlights of the evening for us and also for Combs, who declared that there's nothing better than to be able to have his son join him onstage. It would have been an endearing way to end the story arc of the show, but the train started to derail after that.
The audience admirably rocked with him until he offered a few too many extended moments of pontification over how much the late Notorious B.I.G. loved the Bay Area and how he was proud to be performing for "the livest audience ever" in the birthplace of Tupac Shakur's music career. We miss Biggie (and Pac) too, but we thought it might have been more tasteful to stop at one projected montage of old Notorious videos and interviews.
He brought out polarizing Berkeley rapper Lil B after a bit of a defensive introduction about liking whomever he wants; B's "cooking dance"-assisted renditions of The Pack's "Vans," and his own "Ellen DeGeneres" brought a mixture of cheers and boos. Richard and Harper then came back out for their current song "Coming Home," a slow and almost morose number that sent more people out of the room. The Diddy Dirty Money show didn't end until Combs made sure to add his last two cents.
Personal bias: I met Puffy once, and he asked me for an autograph. True story.
Random detail: Security guards tend to look so serious at concerts, so it was almost delightful to catch one of the burly men guarding the stage singing along to some of the songs.
By the way: Since he shills for an alcohol company, Diddy and crew arrived complete with signature Dirty Money cocktails that were named after songs and made with his favorite sticky sweet Ciroc vodka.