Review: Teyana Taylor, Sean Garrett, and Lil Wayne Move ATL

BMI Artist Showcase 4/24/08Luckie Lounge, Atlanta, GAIt’s a fine time to be an artist in Atlanta. Whether you’re a soul singer, conscious emcee, or a traditional trap music hustler, there’s a place for you here. Just in the month of April, the city has welcomed performances from acts as diverse as Masta Ace, Lina, and Estelle. It’s fitting that BMI (Broadcast Music, Incorporated), the leading performing rights organization in the U.S., would host a unsigned artist’s showcase to shine light on the many fledging and undiscovered acts throughout the city.17-year-old standout Teyana Taylor was the first of the three headline performers. The Harlem singer/emcee overcame the technical shortcomings of the venue to win over the crowd with b-girl attitude and succinct choreography. With jeans hanging off her waist and a white cut off wifebeater, one couldn’t help but see images of a sensual Aaliyah swaying effortlessly through the “Are You That Somebody” video. Despite the clear influence, Teyana is no follower. Her tomboy flair is evident on her first single “Google Me.” She eyed all of us among press row, as if daring us to proclaim she wasn’t the next big thing in urban music. With the talent and confidence she possesses, one would be hard pressed to disagree.Teyana Taylor “Switch It Up”Teyana Taylor “Google Me”Next, songwriter Sean Garrett hit the stage. Nicknamed “The Pen” by Jay-Z due to his string of hit writing credits (Usher, Kelly Rowland, Rihanna), Garrett made the ladies swoon as he went hrough tracks off his upcoming album 2008: Turbo 919. To make sure everyone was familiar with his resume, Garrett performed interpolations of his biggest hits: Beyonce’s “Get Me Bodied” and Usher’s “Yeah!” Not to leave the fellas out, Garrett enlisted two voluptuous dancers that keep the camera’s snapping throughout his set.Sean Garrett “Grippin’”Despite the strong performances, all was not well with this event. There were long stretches on inactivity that hurt the crowd’s energy. The show began at 8pm, and by 1am the headliner (Lil Wayne) still had not reached the venue. DJs attempted to stall for time by playing ATL classics from Outkast, but that was only a fleeting antidote as tensions began to rise. Fans rushed the press pit in preparation for Wayne, which caused threats of violence between multiple female fans. While initially amusing, these empty threats just added to the monotony as VIP, fans, and press were all mashed on top of each other. It would not be until close to 2am before the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive” made himself known.When Wayne hit the stage, the crowd went crazy. The audience recited the lyrics for “Money On My Mind” and “You Ain’t Know” as the New Orleans MC ripped through each verse. The energy continued with renditions of “Hello Brooklyn” and “Dey Know (Remix).”Lil Wayne “Hello Brooklyn/Dey Know (Remix)”Lil Wayne “Money On My Mind/You Ain’t Know”Seeing Wayne’s popularity in person put in perspective the opportunity he has with the new album. He’s in the same position Nas was before Illmatic, BIG before Ready for Die, and Canibus before his debut. The question becomes can he deliver a seminal album to validate his claims like Nas and BIG, or will he fall short as Canibus did? It’s no secret that Wayne does see himself in the vein of the two legends, as his album cover pays homage to Illmatic and Ready to Die. The talent is there, and like everyone else I’m anticipating how The Carter III turns out.Overall, the BMI showcase was a success. The artists all performed exceptionally well. But next year let’s hope BMI pays better attention to time management and venue organization to ensure the best possible atmosphere for all.