Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour October 1, MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“You can hate me now,” Sean “Puffy” Combs once sang, in response to the negative criticism he was receiving for the commercialization of hip-hop. And we did, largely because Puff did the same thing to rap that Berry Gordy did to R&B: polished it for a wider (whiter) audience. The end of hip-hop’s golden era arguably began with Bad Boy Records.
But at Sunday’s 20-year anniversary Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour at the MGM Grand, Puff and company put on a retrospective greatest-hits performance that showed off just how big an impact he’s made on the industry. Boasting a lineup that also included Ma$e, Lil’ Kim, DMX, Faith Evans, The Lox, Total, 112, Carl Thomas, and others, Puffy played ringleader, at times performing next to the acts as hype man. “You know I’m all up on the records, all up in the videos,” Puff said midway through Evans’ set, referencing Suge Knight’s infamous potshot from 1995’s Source Awards.
But what made this show so great was the arrangement. As I entered the venue, I heard 112 performing moderate hits like “Dance 4 Me” and “Peaches & Cream,” followed by Total and The Lox, the latter beginning with “D-Block Anthem” and solo cuts from Jadakiss (“We Gonna Make It”) and Styles P (“Good Times”). Those acts skipped over their biggest hits; those would come later.
As the show progressed, the ante kept getting upped, as French Montana appeared to perform “Ain’t Worried About Nothin’” and “Pop That,” along with remix or mixtape freestyle versions of other people’s hits, which maintained the momentum.
Once Lil’ Kim appeared, the show had reached a point of no return, with the crowd eating out of Puff’s hands. Hit after hit after hit—the concert played much like the Mike Tyson fights that once called the MGM Grand Garden Arena home. Then Puff declared that it would be nothing but bangers from there on out, and he made good on the promise, with help from surprise guest Nelly, who appeared to perform “Hot in Herre.”
Puff’s next trick was the coup de grâce. “These brothers inspired me when I was coming up. They were young and were out there doing it,” he said, and then the voice of Ricky Bell belted out the hook to Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison.”
It was at this moment that I completely lost my sh*t, transformed into a teenage girl and grabbed the random dude next to me and started screaming and shaking him. He did the same. It was a completely unexpected moment, but one that made total sense.
DMX followed, blowing through his club-bangers in under 10 minutes, backed by a surprise appearance from Black Rob, who did his one hit, “Whoa.” As the show began to hit its apex, artists from earlier began to reappear: 112 & Ma$e came out for “Only You,” Total for “Can’t You See,” Faith for “Love Like This.”
“Have you ever heard that many hits at one concert in your life?” Puff asked the crowd, before closing with “It’s All About the Benjamins” and Biggie’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” “Hypnotize” played when the lights came on.
To answer Puff’s question, not since 2000’s Up in Smoke Tour— Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Eminem—has a rap tour been this jaw-dropping. Without a doubt, the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour will go down in history as one of the greatest hip-hop concerts of all time. You may have hated him back then, but you can’t hate him now.