I've always been a rather sentimental person. I was nostalgic even in my younger years. I still have the flyer from the first show I ever performed at over 10 years ago. I use things like that flyer as a tool to look back onto the past in hopes to fully appreciate where I'm at in the present. It doesn't work that way for everybody but I find 9 times out of 10, it works for me.
So when the alert popped up in my email for the Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour, my nostalgia meter started jumping off faster than i would have expected. Back when the "Golden Era' of Hip-hop was popping off in the early 90's i was about 8 years old. I didn't have an older sibling to guide me into what was dope. When I finally got into hip hop, It was a few years later and I was an 11 year old kid getting Snoops first album as a Valentine's Day gift from my mom (Now knowing the content of that disc, it seems like a strange gift for an 11 year old but my mom is dope like that).
After that Snoop album opened up my palette, Biggie's Ready To Die would follow in my young and miniature but rapidly growing collection. That in turn would introduce me to Puff Daddy and the Bad Boy family. I was big into R&B at the time too. I mean, coming into your teenage years, if you wanted to pull off even getting close to a girl, 90's R&B was a very effective tool for doing so and doing so well.
But then something happened. After enjoying a lot of the Bad Boy catalog, I got a little older and slowly got interested in the underground hip hop scene. A scene that heavily criticized R&B and took many jabs at the "shiny suit man" both with direct name drops and plenty of subliminal shots fired. All of a sudden, teenage me didn't feel like it was so cool to be a fan of this collective (excluding Big of course, and The Lox for that matter). I didn't burn my CD's or anything that severe but I definitely did feel a subconscious shame for liking anything related to a huge percentage of the Bad Boy roster after that.
22 years later when I heard that Puff was putting together a family reunion tour, the thought of seeing all the artists together at one show definitely piqued my interest. My wife was also a fan back in the day so I knew that convincing her to go wouldn't require much effort. I'm not going to go into a detailed review of the show itself but what I am going to say is the show was excellent. It was a two and a half hour marathon of smashes from all the artists ranging from Hip-hop to R&B back to Hip-hop again. I'd say the majority of the artists held down their segments extremely well and no one seemed all that out of touch. I could feel the underground, hyper political, "fuck the industry" tee shirt having teenager inside me bracing for the worst but as the show progressed I couldn't help but enjoy the show for what it was. A tribute to 22 years of songs that touched so many of us during some very formative years of our lives.
So yeah, Puffy and Mase aren't technically the best rappers to ever hit the stage, and as far as shiny suits go, there was enough sparkly things on stage to make Elizabeth Taylor get giddy. But the atmosphere at the arena was fun, care free, and infectious. I saw a lot of old friends from past jobs and my high school years buzzing around throughout the night. Everyone I spoke to before or after the show all had the same vibe. That vibe that only some good old fashioned nostalgia can bring. Bernz would tell me that when he was on social media that night it seemed like "all of Miami was there". He was right about that. It definitely did feel that way. In such segmented and divisive times, coming together over anything these days feels like a triumph in itself. One of those shows that when the door closes, the planet outside doesn't seem to exist.
That was something that even the militant angry teenager inside me couldn't hate on.