Ludacris Yonge Dundas Square, Toronto ON, June 16

Ludacris Yonge Dundas Square, Toronto ON, June 16
Photo: Carrie Musgrave
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It's hard to imagine what might have been had original headliner Big Boi not lost his spot due to a serious knee injury, but there's no denying that substitute hitter Ludacris threw down from the moment the crowd erupted at the first sounds of his voice to his final closing bars over an hour later. With a full band and fellow Disturbing Tha Peace rhyme-mate Lil Fate in tow, Luda hit the ground running with an explosive collection of hits right off the top, bouncing from the motormouth opening of "Number One Spot" to the elbow-chucking "Southern Hospitality," with the majority on hand mouthing every word.

The veteran performer relied on a bag of well-tested segues to get him from track to track (like calling out 647 and 416 as a path into "Area Codes"), and the best of these came as a fiery a cappella late in the show that set up fierce, screw-faced hits like "Move" and "Get Back." Before that aggressive final flourish, however, came choice tunes from his extensive catalogue of songs dedicated to weed and women, like "Pimping All Over The World" and his career-launching "What's Your Fantasy," which he offered as a test to the true fans. Along the way, the overflowing square was also treated to tight band solos, a block party DJ routine, and Luda's torch-lighting opening verse from the ridiculously energizing "All I Do Is Win." Stepping on stage armed with the number of established hits Ludacris has might make any performer's job a lot easier, but the star rapper put his invaluable selection of club bangers together in style and did his thing in a big way on Toronto's most public stage.