Big Sean – The I Decided Tour

This past January, Big Sean announced he would be embarking on a 20+ stop North American tour in support of his then upcoming 4th studio album, entitled “I Decided”. “Uber Everywhere” rapper MadeinTYO was set to be the supporting act as well. See dates below.

Tour Dates

Upon getting the notification on my LiveNation app, I knew I would immediately have to snap on tickets. To me, Sean is a guy that has consistently been putting out quality music for the past 3-4 years. He may not quite have the recognition or mass appeal of a Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar etc, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing when it came to this tour. Instead of playing a stadium tour, or a large outdoor venue, Sean would be playing indoor venues like the Fillmore with a capacity of around 2,000 or so people. This meant that my friend Cory and I would have the opportunity to get a “seat” very close to the stage.

Fast forward a few months and it’s Friday, April 14th. A beautiful spring day in Charlotte, NC with clear skies, a nice breeze, temps in the 70’s and a 100% chance of turning up on the horizon.

After a few drinks and some food beforehand at nearby VBGB, Cory and I made our way to the venue and managed to be the 2nd group of people in line (not counting the VIP folks). A little over an hour later we were both approximately 10 feet away from the stage waiting for the show to begin. The crowd began pouring in once doors opened, and a buzz began to grow. In less than half an hour it seemed like the entire venue was packed, but I guess that’s to be expected when the venue sells out of tickets.

The first opening act was a Detroit, Michigan local by the name of Neisha Neshae. Dubbed the “queen of R&B trap”, she played a number of songs that including elements of both, yes you guessed it, R&B and trap. Admittedly, I knew nothing of her coming into the show, but I thought it was a pretty cool gesture that Big Sean went the extra mile to get a fellow Detroit artist on the tour for some exposure.

DJ Mo Beatz, Sean’s official DJ, was the next act on stage. There’s usually always a DJ involved in playing some popular hip-hop/rap music for the crowd at shows while sets are put up, artists get ready, etc. and Mo Beatz was that guy on this evening. He dropped a number of current hits, including Migos‘ “T Shirt”, Post Malone’s “Congratulations” and Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llife”.

After his set concluded, Mo Beatz made way for the tour’s official opening act, MadeinTYO, who performed a few songs, including his hit single “Uber Everywhere” as well as “Skateboard P” and “I Want”. This wouldn’t be the last time we saw MadeinTYO for the night, but more on that later.

Finally, after another set change, it was time. The lights dimmed, some smoke came onto the floor of the stage and a few lights hit the center of the stage, illuminating Big Sean as he made his way to the front of the stage to the tune of “Voices In My Head/Stick To The Plan”.

Sean Don

The crowd was already into it, but they really felt some kind of way when the beat changed during the middle of the song and the Metro Boomin tag came through the speakers. From that point on, Sean ran through hit after hit: Mercy, Clique, Play No Games, Paradise, All Your Fault, Moves, Dance (A$$), Blessings – just to name a few. One highlight during this sequence was another appearance by MadeinTYO. He re-emerged from the back of the stage so he and Sean could jointly perform “Skateboard P”.

Sean ended his set with “Bigger Than Me” and said his goodbyes to the audience. He wasn’t gone long though, because he came back out a few minutes later with an encore performance that started with “IDFWU” and ended with his recently twice platinum certified song “Bounce Back”.

The crowd was going word for word with Sean, and during the performance he came by my friends and I a few times and dapped us up mid-performance. If the show was a piece of cake, this was surely the metaphorical cherry on top. All in all, I would have to say that this concert registered in my top 10 shows that I’ve attended. Everything was great. The crowd was great, all the performers gave it everything they had, the sets/lighting/sound were on point, and all of that combined for a great experience. I’m hoping the success of I Decided and this tour give Sean the additional backing he needs (and deserves) to take his music to the next level, that could possibly turn into a stadium tour with his next LP. Only time will tell.

Until then, if you have a chance to catch one of the few remaining dates on this tour, I highly recommend going. If not, make sure you check out Sean’s album I Decided and hit me with your takes on twitter @ Leeroyknievil. Oh God!

I Decided.

J. Cole: The Forest Hills Drive Tour

FHD Tour Poster

FHD Tour Poster

Last night I had the opportunity to witness my favorite artist, J. Cole, put on one of the most entertaining and heartfelt performances that I’ve ever seen or experienced. Because he is my favorite artist, I am a bit biased, so I’ll try to keep things as objective as possible. I just can’t make any promises. For those that don’t know, J. Cole has been headlining the Forest Hills Drive Tour across the nation to support his latest album of the same name. The tour was composed of 3 Acts:

Act 1: Hometown – Cole and his crew of Dreamville artists (Cozz, Omen and Bas) played smaller venues throughout the country.

Act 1

Act 1

Act 2: The Journey – Cole’s second leg of the tour went abroad and featured Jhené Aiko and Pusha T.

Act 2

Act 2

Act 3: Hollywood – The final leg of Cole’s tour came back to the US and now went to much larger venues than Act 1. This leg of the tour picked up Jeremih, YG and Big Sean as supporting acts.

Act 3

Act 3

Last night’s show was part of Act 3, which is drawing to a close and will rightfully be wrapping up August 29th in Cole’s hometown of Fayetteville, NC.

The show began around 6:30pm with Cole’s crew of Dreamville artists: Cozz, Omen and Bas. I was still tailgating in the parking lot when these guys started to perform so I did miss their set. However, I was able to get to the show in time to catch the next act: YG!

Bompton’s own came out while the crowd was still filing in but held down a respectable mini set that was about 8-10 songs deep. The majority of his songs all stemmed from his 2014 Grammy snubbed album, My Krazy Life. However, he did sprinkle in a few throwbacks/crowd pleasers such as “Toot It & Boot It”. I was pleasantly surprised when YG performed his newest single from his upcoming sophomore album, “Twist My Fingaz”. It’s got a sound that instantly makes you think of Snoop Dogg or Dr. Dre in the early 90’s, gold 88 spoke Dayton rims and low-riders cruising the block in the California sunshine. Seriously, YG couldn’t be more west coast if he tried.

YG

YG

Next up was Jeremih. I have some Jeremih songs here and there on my iPod, but the majority of the songs I have feature him on the hooks. Jeremih got us all together in his Delorean and cranked it to 87 because he took us all the way back to 2009 with his smash hit “Birthday Sex”. This wasn’t the only trick Jeremih had up his sleeves though. Natalie La Rose made a surprise guest appearance and they performed their joint hit “Somebody” that’s taking over pop radio. And the crown jewel of his set for me was his DJ Mustard produced hit, “Don’t Tell ‘Em” which he performed last, with a little help from YG who came back to the stage to do his verse.

After Jeremih’s set ended, an intermission began. The stage hands got to work putting up a new set for the next performer, Big Sean. We used this time to hit the restrooms, get a quick bite to eat, and of course refill the beverages which seemed to be disappearing at an alarming rate. Weird.

After all of that and a little bit of milling around, the fans were shown the new set which featured the front of a liquor store, aptly named “Paradise Liquor”. At that moment, the horns began on the Mike Will produced banger, “Paradise”. Big Sean immediately ripped into his first verse and the spotlights started going crazy. The energy level skyrocketed. He performed his second verse on the song as well and I have to say, it’s straight FIRE.

Sean went through a multitude of songs from various projects. Some were from Dark Sky Paradise, some were from Finally Famous: The Album, some were from GOOD Music’s Cruel Summer and some were from Hall of Fame. Honestly, Big Sean put down one hell of a performance. The crowed was into it and you could see him feeding off of the energy. Not every song played was necessarily a banger or wildly popular radio hit though. Sean took a moment to get personal with the fans when he played “One Man Can Change the World” during which the fans held up lighters/cell phones to illuminate the sky. It was a pretty cool moment. To be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting somebody as big as Big Sean to be an opener. He’s probably not too far off from having tours of his own at venues like these, so adding him to the lineup was absolutely a gift to the fans. I wasn’t able to get great photos of Sean Don, but I did nab some off of his IG account:

IMG_1418

IMG_1419

And of course the obligatory video of “IDFWU”.

After another set change, the time had come for Carolina’s finest. The intro on FHD started playing and J. Cole came out to an uproar of applause. From that point on, Cole went song by song through his entire album. THE WHOLE ALBUM (except “Note to Self”). Things went wayyyy up went he played “A Tale of Two Citiez”.

Another moment that really got the crowd’s attention was during “Fire Squad” where Cole rearranged a few of the lyrics. In the song, his line is:

“This year I’ll prolly go to the awards dappered down
Watch Iggy win a Grammy as I try to crack a smile”

Vs. what he actually said:

“Watch Iggy lose a Grammy as a n*gga crack a smile”

See if you can catch it:

After this, Cole switched things up and detoured from FHD to some throwbacks which got a huge response from the crowd and sparked a sing-a-long to “Lights Please” and the hook of “Nobody’s Perfect”. After those songs it was back to business, and he continued to perform the remainder of the album. It wasn’t just a show for Cole though. He didn’t just go from one song to the next to the next and say thanks for coming out at the end. He took the time to share personal stories with the fans between songs that really gave you a glimpse of who he is as a person, which in turn makes you appreciate his music that much more. I think one of the songs I appreciate the most is “Love Yourz”, which truly has a special meaning for anyone going through hard times. It’s inspiring and makes you realize how blessed you are to have the people currently in your life, in your life. Cole ended his set with that song and since it was dark outside, it was to the illumination of cellphones and lighters once again.

IMG_1416

Cole said his goodbyes and proceeded to exit the stage. He might have fooled me if this was the first time I had seen him perform. Jermaine is a sucker for an encore performance, especially when 20,000 people are all chanting his name. He came back out and played 5 more songs for us, including another appearance from Jeremih when they did their song “Planes”. Cole ended the night with “Crooked Smile” and “Power Trip”, both of which are classics in my book.

IMG_0227

Thinking back on it all, I truly think this may have been the best performance I’ve seen from him. His ability to go back and forth with the fans has gotten better which each tour and there’s no down time or awkward pauses during the show – it’s completely fluid. You’re standing on your feet with your hands raised above your head singing and rapping along to all the songs and before you know it, an hour and a half has gone by – in the blink of an eye. I think that speaks volumes about his stagemanship and the way that he has mastered his craft. Those abilities combined with the way that he addresses the fans through his stories between songs really makes you feel connected with him and gives you a feeling of being comfortable with him – like he’s a friend of yours that you haven’t seen in a while and you’re just happy to see each other and start catching up – it’s all good vibes and positive energy with Cole.

On a more personal note, it still blows my mind to think back on the journey that he’s made with his career. 3-4 years ago I can still remember going to see him perform for the first time at the Fillmore in Charlotte – a venue that sells out at 2,000 people. His first studio album dropped 2 weeks prior to the show, so he was playing music from that as well as his Friday Night Lights mixtape. There were even a few gems from the Warm Up tossed in the show. Fast forward a few years and he’s performing material from his sophomore album in venues like UNCC’s Halton Arena that holds somewhere around 7,000 people for concerts. One year later brings us to last night’s show, and now Cole is performing at a venue that holds 20,000 people. I heard two weeks ago that Cole even sold out Madison Square Garden – 30,000 fans. It’s pretty incredible to sit back and reflect on it all: the music, the growth, the maturity and the message. He truly is one of a kind.

On the off chance that there are any haters out there still reading this who might say Cole is boring, his music will put you to sleep, etc: go to a show. I guarantee your opinion will change.

Lastly, for those curious, I do have the entire Forest Hills Drive Tour Setlist:

YG

1. BPT
2. Just Wanna Party
3. Do It To Ya
4. Bicken Back Bein Bool
5. B*tches Ain’t Shit
6. Twist My Fingaz
7. My N*gga
8. Who Do You Love?

Jeremih

1. Down On Me
2. Imma Star
3. “Somebody” w/ Natalie La Rose
4. Hook from MMG/Wale’s “That Way”
5. Hook from MMG’s “Body Like a Benz”
6. Hook from DJ Khaled’s “Hold You Down”
7. Birthday Sex
8. Don’t Tell Em w/ YG

Big Sean

1. Paradise
2. All Your Fault
3. Verse from Good Music’s “Clique”
4. Ass (Dance)
5. Play No Games
6. My Last
7. Beware
8. I Know
9. Verse from Good Music’s “Mercy”
10. Verse from Good Music’s “Don’t Like”
11. One Man Can Change the World
12. Blessings
13. Stay Down
14. Marvin & Chardonnay
15. Verse from Drake’s “All Me”

J. Cole

1. FHD Intro
2. January 28th
3. Wet Dreamz
4. 03 Adolescence
5. Tale of 2 Citiez
6. Fire Squad
7. St. Tropez
8. Lights Please
9. In the Morning
10. Nobody’s Perfect
11. GOMD
12. No Role Modelz
13. Hello
14. Apparently
15. Love Yourz

Encore

16. Can’t Get Enough
17. Planes w/ Jeremih
18. Workout
19. Crooked Smile
20. Power Trip

Travi$ Scott & Young Thug: The Rodeo Tour

One of the most anticipated tours of 2015 was announced this past January. Rising hip-hop/rap stars Travi$ Scott and Young Thug would be touring together across the United States on the Rodeo Tour, in an effort to promote Travi$ Scott’s upcoming album: Rodeo. Along with them, one of the fasting rising producers in the game, Metro Boomin, would be doing a DJ set prior to those two hitting the stage.

Rodeo Tour

Rodeo Tour

The moment this tour was announced, I knew exactly where I would be on March 17th when the tour came to The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC. No questions asked.

I thought I was being slick getting to the show about an hour early. My plan was to hit a bar or two and toss a few back prior to getting in line. That plan did not last very long. When I got on site around 5:30, a line was wrapped around the block already. Doors were at 7. SEVEN. The hype of this show had certainly gotten around.

I met up with a friend of mine and after a while we managed to get in, and in a decent spot in the crowd. After your typical milling around to house music, a DJ came on to warm things up a little bit. Now I’ve been to a lot of shows over the years but I have never experienced a crowd like this. They turned up to the house DJ. I mean seriously?? A mosh pit was forming in the center of the crowd pretty close to where I would be at and I wanted no part of that madness. So my boy and I noped right on out of there to a place that we thought would be a little less crazy.

Metro eventually came out to a lot of people cheering and started off a dope setlist including tracks he had produced as well as ones he had not. The crowd was definitely feeling him, but you could tell it wasn’t quite all the way turnt yet.

But, that ended when about 30 minutes later Young Thug came out to “2 Cups Stuffed”. The energy people had been holding in came bursting out at this point and they started going wild for the night. I hadn’t seen Thugger Thugger perform prior to this show, but he held the stage down pretty well for himself. He played a number of his classics right off the bat, including his verse on “TF out my Face” and “Hookah” for around 15 mins or so, at which point he gave up the stage to La Flame.

I’ve heard people talk about how Travi$ can perform with so much energy, and those people were not lying. Not a single bit. I honestly don’t know if this guy will have a voice at the end of this tour and I’m sure he’ll need to sleep for at least 3 days straight to get his energy back, because he goes all out during his shows. The first song he played was “Quintana” and my God, I think the rafters were shaking.

The show continued on in about 15 minute intervals between Thugger and La Flame each doing songs until they came to do songs together, including “Mamacita” and “Skyfall” – both of which set the place off. Personally, the highlight for myself was “Upper Echelon”. That song is a certified banger. Take a look:

Right as things were beginning to wrap up, Rich Gang’s founder Birdman made an appearance. This was not expected at all. Now, I’m not a big Birdman fan by any means, but I can get down with the Big Tymers. Birdman dropped “Numba 1 Stunna” and “Still Fly” and it was impossible to not go word for word with those classics. It really was icing on the cake.

All in all, this was a great show and probably the wildest crowd I’ve ever been a part of. Songs were performed from Owl Pharoah, Days Before Rodeo, Rich Gang: Tha Tour Part 1, 19 & Boomin and various other projects. Thugger and La Flame played all of their hits and were really fun to watch perform. The only knock I have is that Travi$ used autotune for at least the first half of songs he did which was kinda weird. Still, I would encourage anyone who can to go check it out. Even if you’re not a big fan of either artist, the experience itself is worth more than the price of admission. They don’t call it the Rodeo Tour for nothing either, so brace yourselves.

If you might be heading to one of their shows in the future and don’t want to see the set list, stop reading. Otherwise, here you are:

Thugger:

1. 2 Cups Stuffed
2. TF Out My Face verse (Rich Homie Quan cover)
3. Hookah verse (Tyga cover)
4. Free Gucci

Travi$

5. Quintana
6. Sin City (GOOD Music cover)
7. Uptown
8. High Fashion

Thugger:

9. Imma Ride
10. About the Money verse (T.I. cover)
11. Warrior
12. Some More

Travi$

13. All Your Fault (Big Sean cover, Travi$ helped produce this track)
14. Don’t Play
15. Quintana Pt. 2
16. Upper Echelon

Thugger

17. Danny Glover
18. The Blanguage
19. Stoner

Travi$

20. Sloppy Toppy
21. Basement
22. Backyard Freestyle

Thugger

23. Givenchy
24. 730

Travi$

25. Grey
26. Company verse (Drake cover)

Travi$ & Thugger

27. Mamacita
28. Skyfall

Travi$

29. Zombies
30. Nothing But Net

Thugger

31. Lifestyle

Birdman

32. Leather So Soft
33. Numba One Stunna
34. Still Fly

MUST HAVE Upcoming Projects

Touching on the last comment in the previous post, I just wanted to point out some upcoming projects that any avid hip-hop fan is probably going to need to cop in the next couple months.

First up on my list:

June 12th

Summer Knights

Joey Bada$$: Summer Knights

June 18th

Yeezus

Kanye West: Yeezus

Born Sinner

J. Cole: Born Sinner

Watching Movies With the Sound Off

Mac Miller: Watching Movies with the Sound off

June 25th

The Gifted

Wale: The Gifted

July 16th

Pusha T

Pusha T: My Name is My Name

Ace Hood

Ace Hood: Trials & Tribulations

Unscheduled release dates include:

Fabolous: Loso’s Way II: Rise to Power
Big Sean: Hall of Fame
Juicy J: Stay Trippy

This looks to be a very promising summer.

Big Sean LIVE in Silver Spring, MD

Big Sean

Hello world.

I’m having to type this because it’s about impossible to speak. Last night Big Sean came to the #DMV at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland and what ensued can only be described as FUCKIN DOPE. He didn’t waste any time trying to warm up the crowd at all but came straight spittin out of the gate with “Mula” off his #Detroit mixtape. The crowd went APESHIT. Sean did every song that I hoped he would and even threw some at me that I didn’t expect when he did his verses from Wiz Khalifa’s “GangBang” and Meek Mill’s “Burn”. After that the set list went something like this:

“Do It”
“High”
“RWT”
“24K of Gold”
“Guap”
“My Last”
“Marvin & Chardonnay”
“Switch Up”
“Mercy”
“Don’t Like”
“Clique”
Finally, Sean came back out and did his verse off of “Show Out” by Juicy J.

I’m sure there were a few more in there that I may have forgotten about as well. Regardless, this was an amazing show to be a part of and in between songs when Sean would talk to the crowd you could really see that he was a genuinely good person just havin a good time with his success – something I think we would all be doing if we were in his shoes. I would highly recommend going to one of his shows if you’re in the area, or shit, even if you aren’t. He will not disappoint. Trust me. OH GOD!!

Oh God!!

Big Sean

GOOD Music artist Big Sean dropped this single yesterday which appears to be on his upcoming album #HallOfFame dropping sometime this upcoming June. This song features an appearance from fellow GOOD Music artist Common and neither of them disappoint.
“Switch Up”

SWERVE