2016 gave concertgoers a bevy of highlights. It was a star-studded year on the road as some of music’s biggest names brought their discographies to life with innovative, interactive, and entertaining stage shows.
Beyoncé had one of the year’s most-talked-about runs with “The Formation World Tour,” an extravaganza that brought LEMONADE to life. Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo Tour” and Rihanna’s “ANTI” run did the same for The Life of Pablo and ANTI, respectively.
But 2016 was also a big year for tandem tours. Drake and Future found success together all “Summer Sixteen,” while G-Eazy and Logic did the same on “The Endless Summer” trek.
Here are Rap-Up’s 5 best tours of 2016.
Beyoncé – Formation World Tour
Beyoncé wowed audiences with LEMONADE, but it was “The Formation World Tour” that gave her critically-acclaimed audio/visual project a live experience to match. Packed with hits from the album and from a celebrated discography, it validated Queen Bey’s status, while elevating her to an even greater superstar stratosphere.
With dazzling special effects and stunning visual components, the arena trek earned acclaim around the world. It was declared “epic” by her hometown’s Houston Press and she was hailed the “queen of pop” by the U.K.’s Telegraph. Rap-Up also reviewed the Dodger Stadium show, calling it “stunning” for its evocative emotional draw.
The rave reviews were met with blockbuster sales as the tour raked in $256 million with 2.2 million tickets sold. It further proved Queen Bey’s global domination with some of her biggest shows at London’s Wembley Stadium and New York’s Citi Field. It also helped validate Jay Z’s comments at the MTV VMAs in 2014, when he called his wife “the greatest living entertainer.” Two years later, Queen Bey still reigns.
Kanye West – Saint Pablo Tour
The controversy surrounding Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo Tour” doesn’t diminish what he was able to accomplish in 2016. Ever since the trek’s opening night in August, fans and critics were wowed by the elevated stage, which appeared to float above a mosh pit of fans.
Visually, the move was captivating. Lights shined onto and out of the platform, creating spectacular visual effects that changed with the moods of each song in Yeezy’s acclaimed discography.
Sadly, the run was marred by complications. Chance the Rapper complained publicly about his hero’s sound system. Some fans grew mad over lengthy diatribes about everything from his support for Donald Trump to his now-public feud with Jay Z. Eventually, West canceled the run altogether before being hospitalized for reported dehydration, exhaustion, depression, and paranoia. But while it lasted, Kanye gave fans a different way to view the live experience, which inspired his fellow artists including The Weeknd.
Rihanna – ANTI World Tour
After going on “The Monster Tour” with co-headliner Eminem in 2014, Rihanna came back solo for 2016. Following the release of her eighth album ANTI, the Navy leader delivered its stunning tour, launching in March to stellar reviews.
In a year of innovative stage shows, RiRi also upped the ante. Her “ANTI” show featured everything from foam to a flying bridge, one that allowed her to walk above fans on a clear platform.
The “ANTI World Tour” also put love on display. She was rumored to be dating opener Travis Scott, but eventually it became clear that her actual beau was Drake. Soon, the two would appear on stage together often, performing “Work” and grinding on one another, adding an element of surprise and romance to the already-dazzling show.
Drake & Future – Summer Sixteen Tour
Drake might have been looking for revenge this year, but with his “Summer Sixteen Tour,” he also found success. Backed by Future, Drizzy went on quite a tear this year, allowing many of his foes to feel his wrath as he gave fans crowd pleasers galore.
The shots came early and often as the 6 God dissed Tory Lanez and others as “fake Controllas” in one show and then mocked Joe Budden at another. But perhaps his most scathing disses were aimed at Meek Mill in Philadelphia. While his adversaries felt those stings, Drizzy was more about unity amongst his superstar friends. He was joined onstage by several allies, including Eminem, Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, J. Cole and, of course, Rihanna.
The run also featured Future as a co-headliner. With a stint in between two Drake sets at every show, Hendrix turned up and offered a street-pleasing sound full of the harmonies and energy that he’s become touted for. But it was Drizzy who stole the show, from impressive pyrotechnics to his flight around arenas while performing “Hotline Bling.” As lit spheres danced around him, he showed why he’s one of the genre’s most celebrated showmen.
G-Eazy & Logic – The Endless Summer Tour
G-Eazy and Logic had plenty to celebrate in 2016. Young Gerald was touring in support of his When It’s Dark Out LP, while Logic was fresh off his Bobby Tarantino project. But they didn’t just celebrate alone. Backed by YG and Yo Gotti, the two teamed up for “The Endless Summer Tour,” a crowd-pleasing joint trek.
Logic delivered a newfound brashness that defined Tarantino, one that turned up more than his past, more introspective offerings. Meanwhile, Yo Gotti and YG built upon the buzz of their burgeoning success with “Down in the DM” and “FDT” respectively.
Closing the show was G-Eazy, who had an astounding year on the road. Prior to this, he and A$AP Ferg went on the “When It’s Dark Out Tour” and “The Endless Summer” continued that momentum on a new level. In a year that also saw Gerald teaming up with Britney Spears, it was clear that Eazy’s stardom was reaching heights he’d previously not seen. The results were a “Summer Tour” to remember.
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