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Concert review: In quick bits, Ludacris rolls through his hits

Rapper Ludacris (submitted photo)

Ludacris wants to know: Are you a real Ludacris fan?

Yeah, you say. He doesn’t believe you. He asks again. Are you a real Ludacris fan? Yeah, you say, incrementally louder. Prove it, he tells you. Step into this wayback machine. If you know this one from deep in the Luda archives, you truly are a real fan.

Oh. You know “Act a Fool”? OK. Guess you’re a real Ludacris fan.

And so it went.

It was a night of rhetorical questions and commands to make some noise during the Southern rapper’s wham-bam retrospective Friday at Amsoil Arena. The Spring Fest concert, organized by the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Kirby Program Board, played for a mostly college-aged crowd of about 3,000. They’d done their homework, though, and were able to summon the lyrics for the likes of “What’s your Fantasy,” a song that dropped when many of them were in kindergarten.

First came the band, bathed in purple lights: A guitar player, a bassist, a drummer, a keyboardist and a DJ. Then came Ludacris from stage right, dressed in camouflage pants, a black T-shirt, red kicks, a thick neck chain and sunglasses. He opened with “Number One Spot,” all rapid-fire lyrics, before acknowledging the crowd with a “What the (bleep) is going on UMD!?”

He played a quick-hit show, zipping through bits of his best-known work but never really taking a song to completion. He performed “Area Codes,” “Yeah” (the Usher song he co-wrote) and “Pimping all over the World.”

He promised to keep going until his voice gave out, then segued into “Money Maker.”

People Ludacris or his crew asked to make some noise during the 45-minute show: independent ladies 19 or older. Freshmen. Alcoholics. Latinos. White people. Sophomores. The left side of the room. Juniors. Weed smokers. Asians. The right side of the room. Nineties babies. Seniors. People who are about to graduate. And, of course, real Ludacris fans.

Luda has been promising a new album, “Ludaversal,” for ages. It’s had a title since about 2012. But the only sign of it during the show was “Party Girls,” a single released earlier this year that includes pieces of the song “Barbie Girl.”

He asked the ladies for a request and performed “Move Bitch,” and then asked the fellas for a request and performed “Get Back.”

Then he ran offstage, somehow nonverbally indicating that an encore was not negotiable.

Atlanta-based hip hop collective Two-9 opened the show and quickly established three important defining details: 1. They hate cops; 2. They love good weed and 3. They would like access to breasts. They looped the sound of a shotgun cocking and a blast. They closed about a five-song set by handpicking about a dozen women from the crowd to dance on stage. Selfies were taken.

DJ Sidereal, a Twin Cities-based high school student, played two sets -- first as the audience filed into the arena and again to fill a void between Two-9 and Ludacris. He played a mix of crowd-pleasers, dancing along and bouncing to perch on different speakers. At one point he introduced his mother.