I didn’t know what to expect from a 50 Cent concert at Ravinia Theatre. I have been to this North Shore festival venue a number of times, but I have never seen 50 Cent perform. As a matter of fact, while I do enjoy a Hip-Hop/Rap song or two, I am not a big subscriber to his music—it’s not as if he needs me. However, Ravinia had such a vast urban slate this summer, and my buddy’s birthday was the day before the September 6th concert, so it was a great chance to see the rapper/actor/producer/businessman, as well as a great chance for my friend to come out to Ravinia, a venue which she has never visited. Besides, he is from Queens, New York, and my long-lost boyfriend lives in Queens Village.
All in all it was a great evening; we had Pavilion seats, so I guess that’s a different perspective than grazing in the grass on the lawn. The Pavilion was packed. I would guess, however, that it was about 85 percent non people of color. Hip-Hop legend Ed Lover, a DJ at 104.3 Jams WBMX Chicago, introduced 50 Cent shortly after 8 p.m. I did run into a 50 Cent/“Power” television show fan. “Power” is an American crime drama television series that debuted on the Starz network in 2014 and is executive-produced by 50 Cent.
The fan, Big Al as he told me his name, was from the Logan Square area, and he had never been to Ravinia, either. He marveled at the fact that folks who purchased lawn seats were able to bring all kinds of food and drinks to enjoy during the show. It’s sort of like Thanksgiving. “I love his new saying, ‘get the strap,’ “Big Al said. “I am a fan of “Power,” and I want to get a hoodie with the new saying on it.”
Valincia Woolridge, an Austin mother of three, who was celebrating her birthday, really enjoyed the concert. “Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson has always been one of my favorite rap artists. I was gifted a ticket to see him perform at Ravinia for my birthday. I had never been to Ravinia, nor had I seen 50 Cent live. I had the best time celebrating my birthday with 50 Cent. The venue was beautiful, and 50’s performance was amazing.”
50 Cent performed a number of his hits, including Moving On Up, Get The Strap (which I think has something to do with arms—but not the beautiful muscular arms that are attached to the featured artist), What Up Gangsta, I Get Money, P.I.M.P., Pimping, Magic Stick (I liked this one), Cuffin Season (I suppose this has to do with smooching with your honey), Big Rich Town, Many Men, I’m The Man, Camron Voice: Uncle Murda, Like Oooouu, How We Do, Candy Shop (this one had the crowd roaring) and Hustler’s Ambition, among others.
Reportedly, “Power” has become a ratings hit for Starz and is regularly noted as one of the network’s most-watched cable shows. Now I don’t know whether the 50-year-old, CEO-type who was making last minute phone calls before jamming out to the concert was a “Fitty fan” or a “Power fan.” But I am sure that the pre-teen girl who was accompanied by her North Shore parents and the African-American lady who appeared to be in her 40s and couldn’t keep her feet on the floor—preferring to stand in the seat and wave her right hand in a profane gesture—were fans of 50 Cent.
The social media site Twitter was abuzz with news of the concert. Following are some tweets (the names have been omitted to protect the innocents!)
“Seeing 50 Cent at Ravinia & there are WAY too many white moms appropriating Black culture for my liking.”
“I’m one of probably 6 Black people at your concert at Ravinia.”
“Tonight is the night that @50Cent is performing at #Ravinia… I still wish I had bought tickets!”
“Can’t wait for @50cent at Ravinia tonight. Also can’t wait for the 60+ crowd with the season pass who have no idea what they are about to see.”
“Just got an email to let me know that 50 Cent is at Ravinia tonight. Here’s a preview: “Lovey! Please pass the crudites! And the Chardonnay has gotten quite warm!” “Quiet, Thurston – Fitty is playing ‘In Da Club’.”
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what nationality, religion, age or gender were “in da venue.” The crowd was entertained during the nearly 60-minute set, and 50 Cent’s debut at Ravinia was just one of many during this season’s performances—ones that varied from family events to jazz to comedy.
“Of course, the artist on stage has a lot to do with attracting the audience on any given night, and our lineup in 2018 certainly proved our commitment to expanding our reach into the urban market, especially with significant Ravinia debuts by 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott and The Roots, Trombone Shorty, and Whoopi Goldberg on a season that also included Ravinia favorites such as Diana Ross, Seal, and Anita Baker,” said Nick Pullia, Ravinia’s Director of Communications.
Ravinia may be a stretch for South Siders, but the payoff is great, when you consider all that you get for the price of a concert ticket. Great weather means a great time on the lawn, as well.
“Ravinia wants to make sure all of Chicagoland knows about the unique social and music opportunities we provide, especially for families. Here you can experience music from most all genres in a beautifully landscaped, open-air venue. We may seem like quite a hike from some neighborhoods, but the trip is worth it because our ticket prices are better than competitive, guests can bring their own food and beverages, and the train stops right at our front gate,” Pullia added.
This season may be a wrap, but it is a good idea to put a trip to Ravinia on your calendar for next year. Who knows? 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige or Jill Scott may be back, and you should make your maiden trip up North or plan a return visit. “We know that this programming has brought many first-time attendees, and our research has shown us that once someone attends Ravinia, they generally return as regular customers within three years,” Pullia concluded.