LEWISTON – When management for mega-star rapper 50 Cent announced the stops on his “The Invitation Tour” in May, it sounded like a geography lesson about the country’s major metropolitan areas.

From Midwest centers of industry like Detroit and Chicago, the tour would find its way to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Atlanta and Boston.

At some point the geography lesson went awry, and a stop was added in Lewiston, a hockey-mad mill city in central Maine. That stop will be on Sunday, when 50 Cent plays the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

So what happened?

Is it that Lewiston is somehow becoming known as a rap Mecca? After all, the town did host a show by another rap legend, Snoop Dogg, at Bates College in February. But Snoop himself told us at the time that he came to Maine mostly because one of his managers is from here, and because he likes college towns.

Wouldn’t 50 and his peeps pocket a few more Benjamins by having a show in Maine’s biggest city, Portland?

“I think commercial or breakthrough rap like 50 Cent seems to be more successful and responded to outside of Portland. People here (in Portland) come out a lot more for underground hip-hop artists like Atmosphere and Kool Keith,” said Mark Curdo, manager of the Maine-based rapper Spose and a DJ on Portland radio station WCYY (94.3 FM).

“But,” he added, “a lot of this comes down to basic business.”

That’s what seems to be the case with the Lewiston show. The management for 50 Cent approached New England Concerts, a concert promoter based in Massachusetts, about adding a New England date after a Boston show at the House of Blues had already been scheduled.

So one consideration was that New England Concerts didn’t want to do a show too close to Boston, said Alex Gray, who handles Maine shows for New England Concerts.

Gray says a lot of music fans around Portland and in southern Maine are in the habit of heading to Boston for big-name shows, and NEC didn’t want a concert in southern Maine to eat into ticket sales for the House of Blues concert.

Plus, Gray has a good working relationship with the Cain family, who took over the Colisee less than two years ago and have been trying to bring in more national music acts to the hockey arena.

“Lewiston is centrally located, so a show there can draw people more easily from Augusta or Bangor than a show in southern Maine would,” Gray said. “It’s not necessarily that it costs less (to put on a show in Lewiston). In this case, with another show in Boston, and knowing how great the Cain family is to work with, it made sense for us to do it here.”

Still, there’s no sense in holding a rap concert where there aren’t any rap fans. And although Maine isn’t exactly known for being a hot spot for rap, it certainly shows an affinity for the genre, both for local and national acts. Snoop Dogg’s show sold out in days.

Though he’s not on the same level with 50 Cent — yet — Spose (Ryan Peters, of Wells) is a Maine rapper on the rise. His single “I’m Awesome” has sold more than 500,000 copies on iTunes and recently hit the Billboard Top 40. Last week, he opened a show in Toronto for “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert.

Spose feels that 50 Cent’s difficult upbringing — his mother was murdered and he started dealing drugs at age 12 — probably helped make him “a stronger person and tougher businessman.”

And a tough businessman is going to find the show that makes the most financial sense, even if it’s in a place he hasn’t heard of.

“I think 50 Cent is successful because he worked hard and sold a product people wanted: catchy, melody-based, easy to digest gangster hip-hop,” Spose said.

And now, as unlikely as it seems, he’s coming to Lewiston.


Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier at pressherald.com