Against a backdrop of billowing clouds and a delay due to a thunderstorm warning, RBC Rock The Park went ahead with full fervor on the third of four nights, Friday, July 14, 2023. Even though it began a tardy two-and-a-half hours late from a weather suspension, the audience was treated to an unabridged slate of performances. The delay added to the anticipation, and the night unfurled into an exhilarating parade of talent, with the hip hop and R&B icons lighting up London, Ontario, far into the night.
Chingy, a St. Louis rapper who commanded the airwaves during the early 2000s with hits like “Right Thurr,” “One Call Away,” and “Balla Baby,” opened the show with unmitigated energy. His performance reflected his musical journey, replete with anthems from his popular albums “Jackpot,” “Powerballin’,” and “Success and Failure.” As he set the stage ablaze, fans entered the park, marking the night’s commencement with palpable excitement.
Following Chingy’s dynamic start, Grammy-winning artist Mýa graced the stage. Despite being slightly at odds with the rap-dominated lineup, her R&B prowess infused a soulful vibe into the night. Best known for her contribution to the sensational hit “Lady Marmalade,” alongside industry heavyweights like Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera, and P!nk, Mýa enthralled the audience with her powerful vocals. Her performance was a testament to her ability to command attention amidst the hard-hitting rap-centric roster.
The stage was then seized by the renowned Ja Rule and Ashanti. The pair may not be linked romantically, but their artistic chemistry is undeniable. They both have had illustrious careers individually, but when they share the stage, an alchemy of sorts occurs. Despite a slight delay, their 90-minute performance had the audience mesmerized, evident by the sea of captivated faces and waving hands. Ja Rule, known for hits like “Livin’ It Up,” and “Mesmerize,” and Ashanti, celebrated for tracks like “Foolish” and “Rock wit U (Awww Baby),” seamlessly blended their distinct styles. The night was also punctuated by a sweet surprise when they sang “Happy Birthday” to Ashanti’s mother, who was presented on stage with a delightful cake.
The night reached its crescendo when headliner Ludacris stormed the stage. The Grammy-winning rapper and actor brought an electrifying performance that left an indelible mark on the audience. With his distinct afro and unmatchable swagger, Ludacris proved he’s not only a powerhouse in the recording studio but also a charismatic performer who can command the stage effortlessly. The audience was held captive as he dished out a range of hits from his extensive career, along with on-screen duets, delivering a showstopper performance.
Ludacris’ setlist comprised an assortment of his own hits and covers of popular tracks. He started with “Welcome to Atlanta,” a Jermaine Dupri cover, followed by fan favorites such as “Act a Fool,” “Southern Hospitality,” and “Area Codes.” His renditions of “Yeah!” (Usher cover), “Baby” (Justin Bieber cover), and “Glamorous” (Fergie cover) were further highlights of his act. As the night culminated with “Move Bitch,” it was evident that Ludacris had indeed hosted the party of all parties, leaving the audience in awe.
Despite an initially ominous weather prediction and delay, RBC Rock The Park’s Friday night unfolded into a grand spectacle. Each performance, whether it was Chingy’s powerful opening, Mýa’s soulful display, the synergy of Ja Rule and Ashanti, or Ludacris’ electrifying closing act, added to the magic of the evening. It was a night that transcended the bounds of time and weather, leaving the audience with unforgettable memories and an insatiable appetite for the final day of the festival.
For more on RBC Rock The Park, visit: rockthepark.ca.
RBC Rock The Park
July 12-15, 2023
All photos by Dan Savoie
Rock The Park Friday 2023