BY JEWEL WICKER
By the time Diddy began chanting “I thought I told y’all that we won’t stop” more than two hours into the Atlanta stop on the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour, it was hard to imagine the show would last much longer.
But for nearly three hours Diddy and the acts he helped to become famous put on a seemingly endless show full of the massive party anthems and sexy love songs that defined Bad Boy Records’ reign. Referring to the concert as a “homecoming” show, the flashy star emphasized from the beginning that he was rolling out the red carpet for “his second home.”
“I was raised here,” he said.
What started as a typical stop on the tour, featuring memorable sets from Bad Boy artists Mase, Total, Carl Thomas, Faith Evans and Atlanta-based boy band 112, became an arena-sized party, which served as a reminder of the sheer number of hits that the record label and its artists have been responsible for over the past two decades.
Diddy repeatedly referred to the set as the “extended version.” A portion dedicated solely to the Atlanta artists signed to Bad Boy South in the early 2000s helped to ensure that fans remained in Philips Arena until after midnight.
Yung Joc led the crowd in his signature dance to “It’s Goin Down.” Gorilla Zoe revisited “Hood [Expletive].” Boys in da Hood even reunited to perform “Dem Boys,” before former member Young Jeezy treated fans to a solo performance.
Elsewhere in the show, Black Rob made an appearance and led the crowd in chanting his most popular single, “Whoa.”
Not all surprise guests were former Bad Boy artists, however.
As Diddy and Bad Boy rapper French Montana danced down the aisle wearing identical white mink coats, equipped with trains that necessitated two handlers per person, Atlanta’s 2 Chainz performed “Watch Out.” Before Lil Kim launched into her set of songs which included “Lighters Up” and “Get Money,” Gucci Mane made a surprise appearance, rapping “Freaky Girl.”
Then, Jodeci (sans former member DeVante Swing), the ‘90s boy band that Diddy helped develop before creating Bad Boy Records, ran through timeless R&B hits such as “Come & Talk To Me” and “Forever My Lady.”
Tyrese and Diddy’s son Christian also performed during the show, with the latter performing a single he hopes will help to cement him as the “future of Bad Boy.”
The show, while insanely fun, was not without flaws, however.
Diddy has built his empire on being the center of attention, even in moments where other people should be shining, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating at times. You could hear him contributing ad libs even when he wasn’t visible to the crowd. In the middle of Faith Evans’ highlight performance of “Soon as I Get Home,” he stopped the song to jokingly sing a duet with Evans.
The transitions between acts were just as jolting, although following The Lox with Carl Thomas did serve as a reminder of just how polarizing Bad Boy’s roster was.
Repeat appearances by 112, Faith Evans, Total and Mase also made individual sets feel incomplete. Some of the most popular songs from these acts, such as Total’s “Can’t You See,” 112’s “Only You” and Faith Evans’ “Love Like This” were group efforts and thus reserved for later in the show.
Throughout the concert, vocals were off and the staging wasn’t anything spectacular, but Diddy and his crew still managed to put on a memorable show that truly emphasized the impact of their work.
By the time the concert ended with a choir-backed version of “I’ll Be Missing You,” a tribute to the late Notorious B.I.G., one thing was clear: Diddy might be flashy and over the top, but his resume has been stacked ever since Uptown Records fired him and inspired him to start Bad Boy Records 20 years ago.