Black music has changed immensely over the last 20 years. It’s been 18 years since Harlem hip-hop artist Ma$e said, “first rap cat with an R&B budget” on Brian McKnight’s single “You Should Be Mine (Don’t Waste Your Time).” In 2015, hip-hop artists are the bigger stars, while R&B singers struggle for attention. The founder of Ma$e’s label, Sean Combs, better known as Diddy, along with the artists on Bad Boy Records, had a lot to do with the changing landscape in music, and Saturday night at the Grand Theater inside the Fox Tower at Foxwoods Resort Casino, the Bad Boy Reunion Tour celebrated Bad Boy’s influence with a concert headlined by R&B groups 112 and Total, soloist Mario Winans, hip-hop trio The Lox and Ma$e.
Winans took the stage first, and performed songs that he has written for other artists, including “I Need a Girl” parts 1 and 2, “Last Night” by Diddy featuring Keyshia Cole and “We Can’t Be Friends” by Trey Songz, among others. The talented veteran writer, singer and producer had the first of many tributes to Notorious B.I.G., the slain Bad Boy artist, before closing out his set with his biggest solo hit “I Don’t Wanna Know.”
Next up were Pam and Kima (without the third member, Keisha), who make up the group Total. The energetic Pam and Kima looked like they haven’t aged a bit, while performing hits like “Kissin’ You,” “Sitting Home,” “What About Us” and more. Total also had a tribute to Biggie Smalls, who the group worked with on his 1994 single “Juicy” as well as their hit “Can’t You See.”
Next up from the Bad Boy roster was The Lox, with Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch appealing to the numerous hip-hop fans in the audience. The group performed a mixture of collective hits, like “Money, Power, Respect,” “Wild Out” and the once-ubitquitous hit “It’s All About the Benjamins,” features, like Styles P on Akon’s “Locked Up,” Jadakiss on “Made You Look” by Nas, as well as some of their solo projects, like “Knock Yourself Out,” “We Gonna Make It,” “Kiss of Death” and more, and Styles P performing “Good Times” and “The Life.” The Lox acknowledged the late Christopher Wallace as someone who taught them a lot about the industry two decades ago.
Ma$e was quickly on stage next, and the multiplatinum star performed many of the hits that made him such, including “Feel So Good”, “What You Want,” “Been Around The World,” “Can’t Hold Me Down,” and “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems,” with the star telling the audience to perform the Biggie verse once again because Big Poppa wouldn’t have liked the energy.
The R&B quartet 112 closed out the show, and I can honestly say that I forgot how many hits they had. From up-tempo songs like “Only You,” “Peaches and Cream” and “It’s Over Now” to ballads like “Cupid,” “U Already Know” and “Love You Like I Did.” 112 closed out their set, and the Bad Boy Reunion Tour concert, with a performance of “I’ll Be Missing You,” the hit dedicated to the Notorious B.I.G., a fitting end to a celebration of Bad Boy Records.