Lil Wayne is a well-known fashion and cultural trendsetter but unless you’ve been a regular at his concerts, you may not recognize that he’s also setting trends onstage. The Artistic Director for his tour, singer/songwriter Shanell, says that Weezy’s high-energy sets have started a trend in rap.
Wayne does more than walk back and forth reciting dope lyrics. “We have dancers; we have skateboarders; we have me up there singing; we have an incredible band and a DJ,” Shanell said.
If you’ve been to the America’s Most Wanted Festival, then you probably saw Shanell singing hooks during Wayne’s sets. What you can’t see is all of the work she’s put in before the show, making decisions about pyro effects, the lighting, the choreography and the set design. After four years of working behind the scenes for Wayne’s concerts, Shanell has seen the New Orleans’ rapper influence the look and feel of other rap shows.
“Not to say that anybody’s biting, but the professionalism that’s going into hip-hop concerts—I think that Wayne raised the bar for what that should be. We have T.I. out there with a full band,” she said. While Shanell acknowledged that Jay-Z has used full bands, she makes the point that “the bar has been raised for even the more street-level hip-hop artists.”
One moment in the America’s Most Wanted Festival that Shanell is proud to see come to life every night is the set for “Rich as F#$k” with 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne.
“My vision for the song, is probably the clearest one that came out. I wanted the girls to look like diamonds,” Shanelle said. The customer designer was stressed to find outfits that weren’t too expensive or too fragile. “We went through four different outfits for them. Finally we found these outfits that look like diamonds and the girls look like Vegas showgirls and I love it. It fits the song perfectly.”
The tour will continue to wind through the U.S. for the rest of the month, ending in September.