Vanessa Obioha reports that Nigerians got what they paid for at Livespot X Festival featuring Cardi B
Irrespective of the type of moral lens you choose to view American rapper and media personality, Cardi B’s recent visit to Nigeria, one thing is certain, the festival was mad o (A colloquial expression for a dazzling performance)!
It was one of those concerts that Lagosians enjoyed, the type that delivered every promise and lived up to the hype and buzz that heralded it. For more than a month, the visit of Cardi B, the Dominican who was born in Manhattan and grew up in Bronx, New York City and had stormed the music industry in 2015, dominated mainstream and social media. Messages of her intended visit were viral topics for both moralists and music enthusiasts. While one camp argued that she was not a modest role model to grace Nigeria’s music scene, others were overjoyed that the queen was coming to entertain them. Cardi made a name for herself not only as a rapper but as an exotic dancer who teases the wild imaginations of her fans.
Her intended visit reminded Nigerians of American celebrity Kim Kardashian’s famous visit to Nigeria in 2013. The model was announced as the headliner of musician Darey’s theatrical concert Love Like A Movie (LLAM). It was the first of its kind at the time and with a Kardashian whose fame was also peaking then, the event drew a lot of attraction. But on the D-day, Nigerians only got to see the celebrity for less than five minutes on stage, sparking an outrage. Nevertheless, subsequent editions had the international acts performing for a longer time.
It was therefore not surprising that such doubts were cast on Cardi B. Not a few wondered if her stage performance would be dewy. More importantly, if she would bless their eyes with her sexy dance moves.
Thus, on December 7, the slated date for the advertised concert, both camps came to witness the electrifying performance of the rapper. The stretch of Ahmadu Bello Way where the venue is located was lined up with cars and those who couldn’t stand the traffic, walked to the venue happily.
Scheduled to officially kick off at 9pm, DJ Cuppy and Shody, the hype man gave the frenzied crowd a foretaste of the night with their adrenaline pumping rhythms.
But just as the nine o’clock hour struck, a deafening silence engulfed the sandy beach of Eko Energy City. Pulsating chants of ‘We are Africans’ from JJC’s 2009 hit single rent the air. The chants were followed by a deep baritone voice that boomed from the loud speakers, warning the audience that things were about to go crazy and it was not magic. Fiery flames filled the stage screens, a hint that the show was indeed about to go down. Subsequent images from the screen rolled out the vision and mission of Livespot 360 Creative Agency, the curator of the event.
Within minutes dancers graced the stage. The first set of dancers were dressed as magicians as if they were performing in a circus. The dancers, who donned different costumes, from warrior-like attire redolent of the South African Zulu warriors to regal robes, danced to different rhythms such as hip hop, afro pop and calypso. The stomps and chants from the score of dancers set the mood for the night.
After their dazzling performance, Darey came on stage to officially welcome the guests. He reminded the crowd why he was a show stopper with the manner in which he engaged them. He got them to chant mad oh! Took them down memory lane with some of his songs, he even got a frenzied fan to donate his phone for a selfie. Following his footsteps, the crowd also demanded he gave them his face towel and his jacket. Like a skilled pugilist, he deflected their requests with witty remarks.
Darey was visibly happy. Who wouldn’t be. Since his last edition of LLAM, not a few wondered what was next for the soul and RnB musician. Last year, he and his beautiful wife Deola officially opened the creative doors of their agency Livespot 360 in Lagos. That year also saw them curating one of the biggest events of the yuletide, the Access Bank Born in Africa Festival (BAFEST). The festival featured an arts exhibition, a fashion runway and a music concert. In a way, it had some of the trappings of LLAM with the trapeze artists performing stunts. The Livespot X Festival followed a similar path, though the trapeze artists were missing in action.
To ensure a holistic experience, there were food courts lined up on the beach as well as a generous supply of Pepsi drink and Aquafina bottled water. The company was among the long list of sponsors who threw their weight behind the show. Others include Visa, Milano, Access Bank, Cool and Beat FM. Also, the Nigerian Breweries Plc brand Tiger beer, provided free WiFi.
Apart from the availability of refreshment, Darey allayed the fears of attendees by rolling out safety measures and assured them that there were security officials in strategic places.
Opening the show was Teni, the fast rising artiste who has shown an unwavering consistency since she came on the music scene. As she waltzed on to the stage singing ‘Askamaya’, a loud cheer rent the air. Her fans at the VIP section refused to stay on their seat to watch her performance. They stood and even climbed on their seats to watch her perform despite the extra view provided by the stage screens. Basking in the outpour of love, she proclaimed herself the sugar mummy of Lagos before singing ‘Power Rangers’, one of her hit singles of the year. As it is gradually becoming her tradition, she invited a lucky male fan to dance with her on stage. Overly excited, the fan hugged her from the back, eliciting gasps and cheers from the crowd.
When she performed ‘Uyo Meyo’, the crowd belted the words back to her enthusiastically as if they were part of the songwriting process. This was followed by a rendition of her breakout song ‘Case’. If she thought that was the craziest reaction she could get from the crowd, they surprised her more when she hinted that she would perform her latest hit, ‘Billionaire’. The crowd simply became euphoric.
Darey would later return to the stage and introduced Patoranking who stormed in with his raving hit ‘Available’. This was followed by ‘Love You Die’. He also took the crowd down memory lane with his song ‘Alubarika’. Other songs performed by the artiste include ‘My Woman’ ‘Jama’. For his performance of ‘Suh Different’, Patoranking removed his silver space suit, eliciting shouts from the enthusiastic crowd. He rounded up his set with the song and gave his shoes and jacket to two lucky fans.
In quick succession, Reekado Banks was announced as the next performer. Banks brought attitude to the stage. On more than one occasion, he warned the DJ to stop playing his music without hearing from him first. The back and forth between him and the DJ marred his set. Nevertheless, the crowd cheered him on.
Thankfully, Niniola returned the energy with her electrifying set. She opened with ‘Designer’ followed by ‘Sicker’. Other tracks performed include ‘Boda Sadiq’, ‘Bana’, and ‘Maradona’. Known for her dancing skills,she wowed the crowd with her moves, particularly when she twerked on stage. Not done with her theatrics, she surprised the crowd when in the middle of her performance she removed her wig. She told them that she bought the expensive wig specifically for Cardi B. Apparently, the older of the Apata sisters was not done with her theatrics. She showed the crowd a red pant and asked ‘Who wants it’. Whether her display was hinting at the ubiquitous use of female underwear by ritualists or not, only she can tell. The crowd however didn’t show any disgust, rather they lauded her performance when she finally took a bow.
For a while, the crowd expected the headliner to come on stage as the hours began to wind down. Their restlessness showed when after DJ Spinall and the hype god Do2dtun interlude, the stage went dark and quiet. Though Darey tried to buy some time with jokes but the crowd would not be easily placated. After a while, the fireworks started and a group of dancers dressed in a green and white swimsuit entered the stage. The crowd held their breath as they listened to the rapper rap backstage, wondering truly if it was her voice. When she finally appeared in a flimsy Nigerian flag inspired outfit, the crowd let out their breath in a thunderous cheer. Within minutes the whole atmosphere changed, the crowd went wild with excitement. For each song she performed such as ‘Money Bag’,’Bodak Yellow’, ‘I Like It’, ‘Girls Like This’, among others, the crowd sang along. They didn’t stop there, they also displayed their twerking skills. But it was Cardi who got the loudest cheer each time she twerked. She gave Nigerians what they paid for by twerking while standing and even went on all fours twerking and moving at the same time. This bold display excited the crowd. ‘Cardi!’ ‘Cardi!’ ‘Cardi!’ rent the air. Her energy matched their wild demands. If not for her performance in Ghana the following day, Cardi seemed unprepared to leave the stage until she probably runs out of energy.
For most of the attendees, the concert ended after Cardi’s set as they left enmasse. However some stayed behind to witness the performances of Tiwa Savage and Grammy nominee Burna Boy.