Music

Last Night: Diddy Dirty Money and Rick Ross Beat Back the Rain at Governors Island

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Power 105 Power Live, Featuring Rick Ross and Diddy
Governors Island
Sunday, August 22

The weather on Sunday in advance of Power 105’s Power Live concert at Governors Island was fitting, considering its star attraction. There was a thick, slowing dampness in New York City yesterday–not so much simply wet as it was soaked through–and I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Rick Ross, he of the often sweaty constitution. It must be tough carrying that weight around when the air itself is conspiring against you.

Ross wasn’t the putative headliner last night–that honor belonged to Diddy and his Dirty Money women. And there were silent gasps from a small, quite wet, and loyal collection of island-dwellers as a DIDDY DIRTY MONEY banner unfurled before Ross took the stage. Was Ross not coming? Diddy sauntered out to the strains of “Victory,” dressed in a black and white varsity jacket with “DM” emblazed across the bicep and left breastplate. After Diddy recited his part on the song–that “I’ma make you love me, baby” line rings weirdly truer than it did when he first delivered it ten years ago–there was an another awkward moment: would Ross now emerge to blasphemously recite the Notorious B.I.G.’s verse?

Wisely, he did not. Instead, Diddy, an enthusiastic, too effortful performer, ran through a couple more hits–“Bad Boy For Life” and “I Need A Girl Pt. 2”–before introducing Dirty Money’s Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper. Next, the requisite things that must occur at a radio promo concert: DM’s “Love Come Down” and “Last Night” were performed; longtime ghostwriter and perennial Bad Boy next guy Aasim caught a shoutout; and, finally, the abrasively enjoyable Red Café performed three songs, including the throttling “I’m Ill,” before a dead-eyed crowd. They were tired, sopping, and longing for one thing.

And then Rozay arrived. He immediately chipped in his verse from Dirty Money’s “Angels,” his bulk protruding behind a black warm-up jacket. After which he took over completely. The silhouette that Diddy and Ross created–one short and slender, the other round and proud–as green and blue lights flashed onstage was impressive, familiar, and, most importantly, intentional. Teflon Don is his favorite album of the year, Diddy said. But he’s been careful not to mince words about the Biggie-Ross comparisons since he began unofficially mentoring the Miami rapper: Ross is not Biggie, we know. But their tango around the notion–funny to some, blasphemous to others–has been a fascinating vision of brand management in the modern era. Onstage last night, it utterly appropriate.

Sean Combs was an ace hypeman before he was a mediocre frontman and that much was clear during “MC Hammer” and “B.M.F..” As he yelped ad-libs, the two resembled Looney Tunes B-teamers, Spike the Bulldog and Chester the Terrier. Their winning performance of Waka Flocka Flame’s “O Let’s Do It (Remix)” was a joyous thing, Diddy pushing the limits of ridiculousness (“All I touch is J. Lo’s!”) as Ross calmly weaved in and beyond the beat (“Took my bitch to Red Lobster/ I can’t feed no friends though.”) They make a wonderful team. “You know, we got a lot in common,” Ross turned and said to Diddy at one point. “We both fuckin’ hustlers.”