-- In the mid-90’s, Bad Boy Records was on top of the world. With popular acts such as the late Notorious B.I.G., Mase, and label head honcho, Puff Daddy, the East Coast powerhouse sold millions of albums and was a hip-hop force for over a decade. Fast forward to 2008, however, and you’ll notice that plenty has changed for the Warner-distributed label. Despite working with Block Entertainment and their roster of Southern-bred boys (including Yung Joc and Gorilla Zoe), Bad Boy has essentially turned into a breeding ground for youthful r&b and pop performers. Amazingly, in spite of the label’s change in musical direction (and Sean Combs ever-changing alias), Bad Boy continues to be relevant and has released two #1 records this year.
Showing off the popularity of a few of their newer acts, Bad Boy recently set in motion a nation-wide Making The Band tour (currently scheduled to run through to the end of July), featuring reality-born acts Danity Kane, Day26, and
, as well as special guest, Cherri Dennis. This past weekend, the tour made its stop in the Windy City, playing to a near-capacity crowd at the historic Chicago Theatre. Opening the show was a confident and energetic Dennis, whose
this past February, followed by teen-heartthrob Donnie Klang. In total, the two opening acts spent only twenty minutes on stage and performed a mere five songs. Regardless of their brief performances, however, the crowd seemed pleased with their music selection and overall stage presence.
Sporting suits, sunglasses and black and red gloves (
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The King of Pop), Day26 resembled a younger-looking version of male r&b group royalty, Boyz II Men. Switching back and forth between handheld microphones (for up-tempo dance numbers) and mic-stands (for intimate ballads), the quartet played off the energy of the raucous crowd, many of whom were lovesick over a mixture of music and toned abs. During their half-hour set, the group performed less than half of the twelve songs found on their recently released
, but made count their choice song selection. While renditions of their two radio singles, “
” and “
,” were formulaic to say the least, an extended A Capella version of “Exclusive” (complete with Donnie returning to the stage on the keyboard) was extremely impressive.
Willie (L) and "Q: (R) of Day26
Closing out the show (notice the absence of the word "concert") was the
–no pun intended– pop act that has led the way for Bad Boy this year, Danity Kane. With platinum-plus and gold certified albums already in their back pockets, the ladies of DK possessed an almost-unmatchable amount of swagger while singing, dancing and strutting their beautiful frames around the stage. Wearing headset microphones to start their performance, the group struggled to harmonize during chorographically-intense moments, but overcame the adversity as the show progressed and their headsets eventually bit the dust. Mixing r&b, soul and rap with a radio-ready pop twist, the group’s routine redefined what their label is all about - hit records.
Aubrey of Danity Kane