Be a “Gold Digger”

Hip-hop hits the Sun Dome Wednesday night when headliner Kanye West brings his mashed-up beats and funky rhymes to Tampa. Hip-hop icon Common, American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino and newcomer Keyshia Cole round out a night filled with soulful sounds and radio hits.West’s presence in the hip-hop world, and the music world in general, has been unavoidable this past year. When West’s album The College Dropout was released in 2004, it was met with a shower of praise and relentless radio play. His latest disc, Late Registration, has also been praised by critics and listening audiences alike and has secured West’s place in the fickle music industry.

Songs such as “All Falls Down,” “Jesus Walks” and the recent “Gold Digger” show his diversity and strength in the field. His talent to create fresh sounds with powerful lyrics and danceable beats makes him a rarity in the recycled mainstream.

West has been under media scrutiny lately due to his comments about President George W. Bush’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. As evidenced by the infamous quote, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” West is known for speaking his mind perhaps a bit too freely at times. He is also known for his endless self-promotion and enormous ego. Yet even with his faults, West manages to be an unstoppable force of talent.

Since becoming an MTV favorite, West has also been highly sought after for his producing talents. He produced nine songs on tourmate Common’s album Be. Common has been a long-time player in the hip-hop game but has finally made his way into the limelight with West’s production skills. Be made it to No. 1 on Billboard’s hip-hop and R&B charts and has received much critical acclaim. The album was the second release on West’s record label, Getting Out Our Dreams.

Common and West both hail from Chicago, and their lyrics reflect their hometown lifestyle. Since the two collaborate on songs on both of their albums, a joint performance isn’t out of the question. Their performances should pack the show with their original sound and a touch of old-school flair.

Before the hip-hop jams begin, the audience will be serenaded with the R&B stylings of 2004 American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. Barrino released her album Free Yourself with the help of RCA Chairman Clive Davis and production by industry favorites Missy Elliot and Jermaine Dupri.

Keyshia Cole’s debut album, The Way It Is, was released on June 21. With her Beyonce-style vocals and beauty; she will surely charm the crowd. With Barrino and Cole, the show will open with a stellar mix of diva voices and attitude.

The show, while possibly the best hip-hop tour of the year, should give the audience a little something special. In a interview, Common said, “The same way we approach the music, we are approaching the live performance like that. Where you feel it’s a show beyond hip-hop.

Kanye is implementing the string section into his show a lot. I’m going to utilize that, too, to a certain extent. Certain visuals we want to do, the presentations stylize how we dress. … Putting on a show, man.”

The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are still available for $39.50. A special promotion at offers students $10 off.