The Scream Years

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The Scream Tour was exactly as advertised. I learned this when I attended a “Scream IV” concert in 2005, and found myself amidst tens of thousands of teenage girls whom proceeded to scream for hours and hours. They screamed when Pretty Ricky, buff and shirtless, writhed on the floor in an impressive display of stage humping. They screamed when Bow Wow and Omarion, the evening’s two headliners, joined forces for the former’s hit song “Let Me Love You.” They screamed just to hear the sound of their hormonally charged voices.

“Scream IV” was the peak year of a concert series that music executive Michael Mauldin launched in 2001 as a platform for Bow Wow, then a preteen rapper taking urban America by storm. Over the next few years, it evolved into a rare platform for urban black youth to celebrate adolescence en masse without the specter of violence. Bow Wow was a mainstay, as was B2K and, after the group broke up, breakout star Omarion. Others on those tours included TomGirl4, which included future singer-songwriting star Sevyn Streeter; Jhené Aiko, then known as B2K protégé Jhene; and former Immature/IMX singer Marques Houston. Despite operating successfully for several years, the series drew fleeting media attention – as of this writing, Scream Tour doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, and I struggled to research information on the different installments.

The Scream tours ended after “Screamfest ’07,” which featured headliners T.I. and Ciara, and a memorable New York concert where T.I. performed alongside 50 Cent, Kanye West and Diddy. In 2011, it was revived for two years as Scream Tour NXG (The Next Generation), and built around teen acts like Diggy Simmons, Mindless Behavior, and New Boyz (who got kicked off the 2011 tour for fighting). Organizers planned a “Scream Tour: The Reintroduction” comeback for this March with Kid Ink and Dej Loaf. However, the tour was mysteriously canceled last week.

There will undoubtedly be more attempts to revive the Scream franchise. For now, it stands as a memorable period in post-millennial mainstream R&B.

(Rhapsody – February 23, 2015)

 

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