J. Cole – The KOD Tour

I’m going to start this post off a little differently, but bear with me. My wife Amanda is a huge, and I mean YUGE, fan of Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour, that is currently going on throughout the United States, was originally announced in November of 2017. Amanda had a pre-sale ticket opportunity and made sure that we would be attending one of the tour stops that was closest to our home city of Charlotte, NC. That city just so happened to be Atlanta, GA and the date for that show was set for August 10th, 2018.

In May of 2018, J. Cole announced a tour to support his most recent album, KOD.

KOD Tour Poster

The only NC stop was going to be in Raleigh, NC on a date that I couldn’t attend, which kind of bummed me out. However, my brain started working and I realized that Cole would be performing on August 12th in Duluth, GA (about 20-25 mins north of ATL) – the same weekend that I would already be in town for the Taylor Swift show. How lucky is that? I immediately bought a ticket to that show for Cole when they went on sale.

Fast forward a few months and it’s Sunday August 12th in Duluth, GA at the Infinite Energy Arena.

Infinite Energy Arena

I’m rolling solo to this show (not the first time that’s happened), but I’m also wearing my NC State Dennis Smith basketball jersey, so I’m getting a lot of “dope jersey man” and things of that nature from fellow concert goers. I’m wearing it because Jermaine and Dennis are both Fayetteville, NC natives and go back a long way. I’m also a proud NC State alum, which is where Dennis went to school, so it all worked out in my mind to be a perfect fit for the show. I got inside the seating area and found my spot, which was in the lower bowl to the far left of the stage. Folks started filling in the sold out 13,000 person capacity venue and we all began to wait for the show to begin.

There were a number of opening acts. The ones scheduled to perform were EarthGang, Jaden Smith and Young Thug. I was cautiously optimistic that in Atlanta, the Mecca of hip-hop, there might be a surprise guest in store for us. Only time would tell.

First up: EarthGang. Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot make up this duo that is signed to Dreamville Records. These guys began when the venue was still filling in, but they brought a LOT of energy to the stage. Admittedly I don’t know a lot of their material, but they performed a relatively small set of maybe 4-6 songs before they performed one song I was familiar with, “Meditate”, which features fellow Dreamville artist, JID, who just so happened to come out and perform his verse! Surprise guest #1 was in the books.

2nd Act: Jaden Smith. I won’t even sugar coat this. I don’t know any of Jaden’s music. I love his dad Will for bringing the best 90’s sitcom to TV, but I can’t say that I’ve listened to any of his son’s music. Jaden had a lot of energy as well, but it was a much more intense energy. He performed a smaller setlist as well around the same size of EarthGang’s and it included “Ghost”, “Batman”, “George Jeff”, “Watch Me” and “Icon”.

3rd Act: Atlanta’s own, Young Thug aka Thugger Thugger aka Jeffery. Thugger is one of the most polarizing names in hop-hop in my opinion, because he’s so different from what most artists are doing with regard to his sound, his sense of style and his delivery. One person might love him, the next might hate him. But in Atlanta, most people love him. And he got a huge ovation when he came out to start going through his set, which contained “Riri”, “WyclefJean”, “With That”, “Best Friend”, “Family Don’t Matter”, “Digits”, “Relationship” and “Pick Up The Phone”. During the middle of this set, Thugger brought out fellow ATL native and up and coming rapper Gunna, and they jointly performed “Oh Okay”. The crowd was feeling it at this point, but they had no idea what was coming next. THE KING – T.I. came out to the tune of a classic, “What You Know” and the crowd lost their mind. T.I. immediately followed that up with “24s” off of his classic album, Trap Muzik. After those two bangers, T.I. spoke to the crowd for a little while about how we shouldn’t let people tell us what we can and can’t do, and that we should follow our dreams, which led into his next song, the triple platinum hit, “Live Your Life”, to which the crowd sang the hook in unison. Finally, Young Thug rejoined T.I. on stage for the duo to perform their joint banger, “About The Money”. It was LIT.

After T.I. left the stage, stage hands came out and began to get the stage ready for Cole’s performance. After a while, the curtains dropped and the letters “KOD” were hanging above the stage in the same font that they were on the album cover. Smoke was flowing onto the stage. Cole’s band wasn’t even visible. But out came Jermaine, to the tune of one of my favorite cuts off of KOD, “Window Pain”. The crowd erupted and the energy didn’t let down until the show was over. Cole took us through a setlist that mostly consisted of his newer material, however he did include some of his original singles as well for those like myself that have been following him for some time now. The setlist went:

1. Window Pain

2. A Tale of 2 Citiez
3. Fire Squad
4. Photograph
5. The Cut Off
6. Deja Vu
7. ATM
8. Motiv8
9. Kevin’s Heart
10. BRACKETS
11. Nobody’s Perfect
12. Work Out
13. Can’t Get Enough
14. Ville Mentality
15. Neighbors
16. Love Yourz
17. Apparently
18. Wet Dreamz
19. G.O.M.D.
20. Power Trip

Prior to performing his next song, Cole took out some time to explain the meanings behind the name of the album, KOD:

1) Kids on Drugs, “that the times we live in and I’m not talking just about rappers we all on something whether it pills, weed, sex, money, we all on something running from sh*t!”

2) King Overdose, “that’s me personifying the times that I have and do go through the same f*cking addictions. You I’m talking about.

3) Kill our Demons, “that’s what I pray we all f*cking get to do one day, you know what I mean. We all running from some sh*t. I hope we can all look at our sh*t straight in the face and get over that sh*t.”

He went on to say, “What I’m talking about is pain, and our ability to deal with pain. I don’t give a f*ck if you’re from white picket fences or you’re from the f*cking projects. We’ve all been through some sort of pain. One man’s pain can’t be greater or less than the next man’s. Everybody’s been through something”. Cole then went on to perform (you guessed it, KOD).

21. KOD

After this performance, Cole left the stage and the lights came on and the show appeared to be over. The crowd wasn’t quite buying it. And it turned out that we were right, because Jermaine returned to the stage a few minutes later and gave us an encore.

22. 1985

23. No Role Modelz

I’ve always loved the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I grew up without cable (the struggle was real) so of the 10 channels we got, one of them always had the black sitcoms that I would watch after school every day. Family Matters, A Different World, The Fresh Prince, etc. The Fresh Prince was by far my favorite. A few years ago I even got the entire series on DVD. So when this song came out, I immediately gravitated towards it, and I thought it was the perfect way to end the show.

I was trying to think of a way to describe Cole’s music, and what I repeatedly arrived at was his way of being brutally sincere and humble with his audience while at the same time, providing hope and encouragement to anyone dealing with a struggle, be it great or small. His substance-over-style approach to music has always been appealing to me because his lyrics carry weight, meaning. But I’ll get off my soapbox.

The point of all this, is if you have the opportunity to see him at a stop on this tour, don’t hesitate. Go.

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The Diplomats: Dipset Forever Reunion Tour

Last night, I had the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane with my wife, Amanda and our good friend, Nick.

The Diplomats have had their ups and downs throughout the years, however they somewhat recently squashed their own beef within the group, and as a result, a reunion tour was announced. Cam’Ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones and Freekey Zekey would be hitting the road together for a group tour.

Tour Poster

When I initially heard about the tour coming to Charlotte, I was interested, until I saw the ticket prices. These guys have made some great music throughout the years, but as more of a casual fan instead of a diehard Dipset guy, I wasn’t quite ready to part with roughly $50 for a ticket.

However, Groupon stepped in and cut that price in half. $25?? We’re in there!

There’s one thing I’ve noticed in the last 8 or so years of going to shows. Artists that are younger and on the come up typically have a younger age group of followers, which makes perfect sense. This group of concert goers likes to get wild (Again, this is most but not all). What I’m referring to is pushing and shoving to get as close to the stage as possible, mosh pits, getting way too drunk, etc. For the record, I’m not knocking it, I’ve been there myself. You just have to be prepared to encounter that before going to a show where you think that environment will be taking place. Artists that are more established and have been around for a while attract a different kind of audience. Both groups of concert goers enjoy hip-hop/rap, but the dynamic within the crowd is very different. This older crowd isn’t really too worried about getting as close as possible to the stage, they like to have a few drinks and kind of chill. It’s honestly a very laid back atmosphere. And fortunately, that’s what the crowd was like for this show. I digress.

We three amigos went to VBGB for a few brews before the show and I have to say that NoDa Brewing’s “Good Will Hopping” was quite nice. After those, we walked over to the Fillmore after doors had already opened. There was no wait, we just walked right in. There was plenty of space between groups of people despite the place being packed. Our trio got a prime location in the middle of the crowd and waited for The Diplomats to take the stage.

Unfortunately, we would only be getting 3 of the 4 scheduled performers. It appears that there was some kind of dispute between the promoter for this show and Juelz Santana, who made it very clear that he would not be in Charlotte, NC on twitter for this show.

Juelz :/

Going into the show, I was under the impression that the order of artists taking the stage would go Freekey > Jim Jones > Juelz > Cam’Ron. With this latest twist, I wasn’t so sure what would happen.

And when it was finally time, Freekey, Jim and Cam all came out together, which was definitely unexpected, but a nice surprise. They brought an army of affiliates with them to the stage and those 3 all took turns rapping fan favorites together. It was just a really fun show. The highlights for me were “Hey Ma” by Cam, “Oh Boy” by Cam and last but not least, “We Fly High” by Jim Jones.

I have to confess that in 2007, “We Fly High” was my ringtone on my silver, Motorola Razr. I can still hear it ringing in the dorms of Owen Hall at NC State. Good times.

Remember these things??

And to this day, I will still refer to “We Fly High” as a banger. Take a look – you know you know the words.

All in all, these guys put on a really enjoyable performance and it was fun getting to hear some of rap’s most notable songs of my generation’s youth. This tour just got underway so these guys will be touring for the next few months throughout America. Check your local area for Groupons and see if you can take advantage of a discounted ticket, because it will definitely be worth it.

2 Chainz – The Pretty Girls Like Trap Music Tour

Here were are again with yet another long overdue post. What can I say? Life gets in the way. That said, I do this as a way to kind of capture the memories from the shows I’ve attended. I can go back at any time and re-live the moment per se just by reading a brief 5 minute blog post.

That said, I love 2 Chainz. Tity Boi. Tauheed Epps. Whatever you want to call him, that’s my guy. In my opinion, he’s one of the best personalities in the rap/hip-hop industry and he’s in my top 5 favorite rappers. I’ve seen him perform 6 times over the past 5 years in various cities throughout NC and once in VA. Point blank – if he’s going on tour, I’m going to be there. And just like clockwork, after 2 Chainz’s most recent album release, a supporting tour was announced to hit 30+ cities across the United States. His September 12th stop just so happened to be at the Fillmore in Charlotte, NC. I just so happen to live in Charlotte, NC. Done deal. I knew where I would be that evening.

PGLTM Tour Poster

I got to the venue early and attempted to wait patiently for doors to open. Attempted. My wife Amanda was with me and can attest to that. I probably annoyed the crap out of her. But she’s a trooper and loves some 2 Chainz as well, so she put up with it. When the doors finally did open, we secured a nice spot very close to the front of the stage, dead center. It would only be a matter of time.

The first act was TRU signee, Skooly. I didn’t know much about him other than the fact that he was a young artist out of Atlanta, GA. I recognized him from one of 2 Chainz’s songs, “Someone to Love”. Other than that, I was in the dark. Generally speaking, sometimes it can be tough for openers to get a crowd into a show. The crowd is still filling in, getting drinks, not that interested in an opening act, etc. However, I thought Skooly did a solid job of getting a buzz going. He performed a number of songs I hadn’t heard before, then ended his set with his then lead single, “Fucc It Up Suh”, off his mixtape BAcCWArdFeELiNgS. It’s low key kind of catchy. I would also recommend the song “Basic” off of that same mixtape.

The 2nd opener was another TRU signee, Young Dolph. Hailing from Memphis, TN, Dolph has made a name for himself in hip-hop circles for his gritty delivery of songs primarily about slinging dope. He’s also gotten a bit of notoriety for his beef with fellow Memphis rapper, Yo Gotti. Not even a year prior to this show’s date, Dolph was shot at 100 times during the CIAA weekend (also in Charlotte). Nevertheless, he was back in Charlotte on this night. Dolph was seated on a throne with his back to the crowd when the curtains dropped. He began rapping “Get Paid” and the throne rotated towards the crowd. From there, Dolph went through his set that included “Pulled Up”, his verse from OT Genasis’ “Cut It”, “Preach”, and naturally “100 Shots”. Dolph even brought out his own father to the stage to enjoy the moment with him.

Young Dolph & his father

After Dolph was finished, the stage hands began to work on putting 2 Chainz’s set together. It presented a perfect opportunity to hit the bathroom and re-up at the bar. Once I got back to my spot in the crowd, I only had to wait for a few minutes before the show was set to go on.

The set was made to look like the trap house that was on the cover of Pretty Girls Like Trap Music.

PGLTM Album Cover

The Trap Choir was posted up to the right of the stage and they were laying down a soulful medley with some backing from 2 Chainz’s longtime friend and personal DJ, DJ E. Sudd. Mid-medley, gunshots rang out over the speaker system and they all ducked for cover. “Riverdale Rd” then came out blaring and crowd knew it was time. The front door of the trap house opened up, and Tity Boi came rolling out rapping his @$$ off. He was literally rolling. For those unaware, 2 Chainz broke his left leg a few weeks prior to starting the tour at his daughter’s birthday party. I can only assume that he was leaned out in a bouncy house or something.

Jokes aside, instead of cancelling the tour, 2 Chainz tricked out a wheelchair a la Pimp My Ride and hired a scantily clad “nurse” to push him around and voila, the tour continued. I think that really speaks to the kind of artist he is. After performing “Riverdale Rd”, 2 Chainz introduced himself to the crowd, said his hellos, and dove into a set list that went like this:

1. Riverdale Rd.
2. verse from No Problem (Chance the Rapper)
3. Big Amount
4. verse from All Me (Drake)
5. No Lie
6. I’m Different
7. chorus from F*ckin Problems (A$AP Rocky)
8. verse from Bandz A Make Her Dance (Juicy J)
9. I Luv Dem Strippers
10. verse from Cut Her Off (K. Camp)
11. verse from Thick (OT Genasis)
12. Trap Check
13. MFN Right
14. Watch Out
15. verse from Beez In The Trap (Nicki Minaj)
16. Blue Cheese
17. Bounce
18. Duffle Bag Boy (Playaz Circle)
19. Door Swangin
20. Crack
21. Birthday Song
22. Poor Fool
23. It’s A Vibe
24. Rolls Royce B*tch
25. OG Kush Diet
26. Good Drank 2.0
27. 4AM

The set list was fiiiiire. Current hits, past hits and verses from other popular singles. And on top of that, the date that Chainz performed in Charlotte was actually also his birthday. So everyone – The Trap Choir, DJ E Sudd, the crowd – sang happy birthday to 2 Chainz while he was on stage. Young Dolph came back out on the stage to wish 2 Chainz a happy birthday and the “nurse” brought out a birthday cake in the shape of a trap house (naturally). 2 Chainz blew out the candles, said his thanks, and then followed it up by performing “Birthday Song”. I mean, how could he not?

4AM was probably the highlight for me, because it was the song I wanted to see him perform the most. It’s definitely my favorite song from PGLTM and I was honestly shocked that it didn’t get more promotion, because it’s undeniably a banger. All in all, it was yet another great 2 Chainz show, and while this tour is obviously not going on any longer, if you have the chance to see him perform down the road, you absolutely should.

J. Cole – 4YEO World Tour

I’ve been putting off doing this review for a few months now, and for that I apologize, so without any further ado, here it is:

On June 18th I had the distinct pleasure to see J. Cole perform at the Cone Denim Entertainment Center in Greensboro, NC. But before we get into that, let’s back things up for a minute.

This past December, Fayetteville’s own J. Cole released his 4th studio album entitled 4 Your Eyez Only. While a huge J. Cole fan, I admittedly enjoyed this album the least compared to his previous 3 albums. Now I’m not saying that the album is bad, or of any lesser quality, I just felt that as a whole it wasn’t as enjoyable as his previous works. Outside of “Neighbors”, there really aren’t any “hit singles” or mainstream friendly tracks that you find yourself wanting to play over and over again. However, this project has depth, and the concept behind it is quite personal. The album follows the story of a young man, as he goes from selling crack, to falling in love and starting a family. In the final track, it is revealed that he has died, and almost the entire album is a tape he created for his daughter to listen to after he’s gone. Listeners come to find out that this story is actually about a real life friend of Cole’s, and in that moment everything seems to come to a halt. Reality check. These aren’t made up stories to sell records. These are the struggles of everyday life for some people. People that while villainized by the media, are really just human, and trying to do the best that they can to provide for themselves and their families.

Back to the tour. When the dates were initially announced, I knew I had to attend one of the shows. The first 13 dates would take place in smaller, more intimate venues and there would only be Dreamville artists as scheduled opening acts. The next set of dates would take place in arenas across the US, with Bas and Anderson .Paak set to open. And the final leg of the tour would go across the pond to large venues throughout Europe.

4YEO Tour Poster

I personally enjoy shows at smaller venues for the intimate experience. There’s nothing wrong with arena tours at all (I go to those too), it’s just how I feel. So when the presale tickets went up, I was scouring Livenation for tickets to the closest smaller venue show. After battling bots online for roughly 10 minutes and temporarily losing my mind thinking I would never get tickets, I landed 2 seats to a show in Greensboro, NC at a venue that holds roughly 2,000-3,000 people. I was ecstatic.

Fast forward a few weeks, and my wife and I are making the one and a half hour trip from Charlotte to Greensboro, bumping nothing by J. Cole the entire way. We made our way into the venue after catching a few drinks with some of her college friends in that neck of the woods, and found our seats. You could feel a buzz in the room. J. Cole was back in NC, performing songs about providing for your family and the joy of having a daughter, on Father’s Day. The anticipation was real.

After Dreamville artists (and opening acts) Lute, Ari Lennox, and J.I.D [who has made quite a buzz for himself with his debut album, The Never Story] cleared the stage, Jermaine came to the stage ushered in by a roar from the crowd. Not a single person was sitting down. He greeted the crowd with a crooked smile, and began to go through his set. One thing I’ve always thought about J. Cole is that no matter how the song may feel or sound when you listen to it in your car, or on your phone, when you see it performed live, it’s completely different. For example, the song “Ville Mentality” is slow, and a bit depressing. It’s not a song you would really look forward to hearing at a show. When performed live though, Cole gets the audience involved and has them singing along and you no longer have those same thoughts. J. Cole gets slapped with the “boring rapper” tag to the point where it’s almost a meme, but his live performances are truly top notch. I’ve been to 85+ shows spanning many genres of music, and he is consistently one of, if not the best showman that I’ve seen. He finds a way to transform his sound and somehow make everything enjoyable. I’m obviously a bit biased here, but I think what makes this possible is that during the show, you realize how likeable of a person Cole really is. The banter with the crowed throughout the show gives you a feel for the kind of person he is. So as the show goes on, you want to like everything, even if you didn’t when you initially stepped through the venue’s doors. He’s a genuine, down to earth guy, and I think that makes it very easy for an audience to relate to him.

With regard to the set, Cole had a little bit of everything in store for us. He played songs from each of his 4 albums, including “Lights Please”, “Nobody’s Perfect”, “Power Trip”, “No Role Modelz”, “A Tale of 2 Citiez” and “Love Yourz”. One of the songs I was looking forward to the most was “Neighbors”, and Cole did not disappoint. IMO, these are all fantastic songs and I love each and every one of them, however the moment that really struck me was his final song.

Cole performed the title track to his most recent album, “4 Your Eyez Only” in its 9+ minute entirety. He told fans that he wouldn’t be returning for any encore, so

“if you don’t want to hear somebody running through some real sh*t for eight minutes and really give you a story, this is your time to beat the traffic.”

It was heartfelt, and simply raw. The ending line was really what got me when I first listened to the song, and hearing it live had the same affect: “Yo daddy was a real n*gga cause he loved you”. Powerful stuff right there.

The tour is still going on right now in the US, so if you have the ability to catch one of his upcoming shows, I would strongly suggest making it happen. If you’re any kind of hip-hop fan, even if you don’t like J. Cole’s music that much, get yourself a cheap seat in the nosebleeds to one of the dates and go in with an open mind. What I said previously will really start to make a lot more sense.

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.

The #PurpleReign Tour: Charlotte Edition

Happy Friday everyone. I’m enjoying a lovely rum & coke at the moment and I hope that your evening is going just as swimmingly. To be completely honest, I’m aware that it’s been almost a month since this concert took place. Part of me feels almost guilty for not posting sooner, but a larger part of me doesn’t want to feel obligated to make these posts. Let’s be serious, there probably aren’t but a few dedicated readers anyways – hey Amanda – so from here on out things will be a bit different. I’m going to post reviews after seeing a show for sure, but I’m not going to try to pander to any audience or try to make some kind of clickbait title for views. The days of going to ~20 rap shows a year are behind me. So from here on out, I’m keeping it real. [This would be the ideal time for a Chappelle show clip about when keeping it real goes wrong btw].

Alright, I’m off the soap box, let’s get to the damn thang.

Here we go. 2015 was owned by Future. There’s no doubt about it. The man dropped two critically acclaimed mixtapes in 56 Nights and
Beast Mode, and then followed them up with an unprecedented 3, yes THREE, number 1 albums in DS2, What A Time To Be Alive w/ Drake, and EVOL (not to mention the Purple Reign tape itself). For those counting at home, that is 5 projects in a single calendar year. Some people can’t put out 5 projects in a career – looking at you Dr. Dre.

Needless to say, the hype was really real for the Purple Reign Tour, and rightfully so.

Purple Reign Tour

Purple Reign Tour

A few months back I got a notification from my LiveNation app letting me know that tickets would be going on sale. I was all over it. Yes, I have seen Future perform before, but at that time he was nowhere near as popular as he is today.

Fast forward a few months. April 7, 2015. Showtime is 8pm at The Fillmore, one of my favorite venues. I’m rolling solo, which at this point I’m used to doing. Live music is just worth it in my opinion. Anyways, I showed up about 20 minutes before doors opened and the line was at least 200-250 yards long. Unreal. It didn’t phase me much though, because I had previously purchased a handy dandy “fast pass” from the venue for $10 which essentially provides a separate admission line that gets in before the mile long general admission line. I was tempted to buy a “Meet & Greet” package ticket, but $250 is a little too steep for me, no matter how much I like Future.

So inside the venue we go. The show actually didn’t take long to get started, which was nice. Lil Donald was the first act out. I won’t front at all, I’ve never heard of Lil Donald before that night. I learned he was signed to Freebandz though, so he’s got that going for him. He did a few songs and the crowd was cool with him.

The next performer I was very familiar with, Ty Dolla $ign. Most people got familiar with Ty following the success of his hit single, “Paranoid”. I will humble brag and say that I was a fan a little before that, mainly because of his affiliation with YG, who I love. I think everyone is familiar with the song “Toot It & Boot It” though, which is where Ty really got his start, even if nobody really knew who he was back then.

Ty came out looking super casual and put together the following setlist:

1. Familiar
2. Dead Presidents
3. Violent
4. Irie
5. Only Right w/ TeeCee4800
6. Toot It & Boot It
7. You & Your Friends
8. Play No Games
9. Sitting Pretty
10. Or Nah
11. Paranoid
12. Saved
13. Blasé

Ty held it down, especially for an opener. I would almost venture to call him a co-headliner. I skipped seeing Ty about a year ago at Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, so it really was a treat to see Ty AND Future in the same night.

Dolla $ign!

Dolla $ign!

After Ty’s set, house music filtered back through the speakers at a reasonable level and general conversation filled the venue. After some time, the stage was set for Fewtcha. The lights dimmed, and the backdrop of 3 split screens began to show a steady sea of purple waves. Anticipation was rising, and ultimately, our boy came out to grace the stage. After at least 2 hours since most of us entered the venue, we were ready to turn up. At first, there was a faint sound of music playing. It gradually got louder, and ultimately you heard the beginning of “Thought It Was a Drought” playing. Future ran through a brief introduction to the crowd, but the crowd could have cared less. We went word for word over the intro to the song until the beat dropped at which point all hell broke loose, in a good way of course.

Future put down a set list that was pretty amazing. It consisted of:

1. Thought it was a Drought

2. Move That Dope
3. Same Damn Time
4. Karate Chop
5. Monster
6. My Savages
7. Peacoat
8. Lay Up
9. Where Ya At
10. I Serve the Base
11. Blood on the Money
12. Stick Talk
13. Freak Hoe
14. Blow a Bag
15. Rotation
16. Slave Master

At this point, we had gone through a number of hits, and Future needed a break to get some water/hydrate/hit the gas, etc. Whatever he was doing, we had ourselves a guest MC enter the stage to keep us entertained, DJ Esco, who was donning a fitting #2 Charlotte Hornets Larry Johnson jersey.

DJ Esco

DJ Esco

Esco played a number of current radio hits for 10-15 minutes and ultimately gave the mic back up to Future, who continued to light things up, and he started the 2nd portion of the show with a bang, by bringing Ty back out of stage to perform Blasé, together. It was lit. Ty even leapt from the stage into the welcoming arms of fans, who lost it.

17. Blasé w/ Ty Dolla $ign
18. Real Sisters
19. The Percocet & Stripper Joint
20. Trap N*ggas
21. F*ck Up Some Commas
22. Diamonds Dancing
23. Jersey
24. I’m The Plug
25. Jumpan

26. March Madness
27. All Right
28. Wicked
29. Perkys Calling
30. Purple Reign

Fewtcha!

Fewtcha!

And with that final performance, Future bid us adieu and left the stage. The venue’s lights came back on, and people started filtering out into the brisk night air. What they didn’t know, was that Future wasn’t done. After a few minutes, he came back out on stage and gave an encore performance consisting of:

31. Low Life
32. Honest
33. Chosen One
34. Love Me

It was a solid hour and a half performance, and Future certainly delivered. He put down a great performance and earned every cent that he made that evening. My only criticism would be that he didn’t play my personal favorite, “Gone to the Moon”. I get it though. With his current buzz, most of his fans these days don’t even know that song because it’s so old. Fortunately, I can say I’m lucky enough to have seen it performed before, so there was no real damage done.

All in all, it was a great show, and I’m really glad that I made the effort to go see Future perform. I won’t say I’ve been a day one Future fan, but as a fan of at least 3 years or so, it is really cool to see him rising up in the hip-hop community and know that you were supporting him back when he was relatively unknown. My humble brag is now done. Point is, if you haven’t seen him and he’s coming to a city near you, get some tickets and make it happen. You won’t regret it.

#CLreFRESH presents: DJ Dummy, DJ Mustard & Fabolous

This past week I was on the interwebs going from site to site looking for upcoming shows in the Charlotte area. I wasn’t having much success, and ultimately found that nothing was really happening within the next month, so I gave up the search and went to IG to peruse through some photos. Lo and behold, I stumble across the IG page of Fabolous, who posted the following picture 15 minutes earlier:

IMG_1928

Jackpot.

I immediately followed the link in the photo caption and found that this event was being sponsored by Coors Light and was 21+ only. Not only that, it was FREE. I hit up a couple of guys to see if they wanted to go and just like that the wheels were in motion. Fast forward 2 days to the night of the show and we were waiting in line at the Fillmore. It wasn’t all gravy though, it was raining and because this was a free event, the line was ridiculous. (Sidebar: In hindsight, I definitely should’ve seen that coming). Nevertheless, after a solid 45-55 minute wait in the weather, our squad finally got to the doors. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by some Coors Light reps who gave us vouchers for 2 FREE beers.

Free Beer??

Free Beer??

We gladly accepted and made our way inside. I was under the impression that we wouldn’t have a spot very close to the front because of the line but thankfully, I was wrong. I later found out that Coors Light had set up stations in the back of the Fillmore where they were serving FREE Lobster Mac & Cheese, sliders, etc. which would explain why we could stroll right up to the front of the crowd. Hey, no complaints here. We did manage a Squad shot before the show really got underway:

SQUAD

SQUAD

No Limit Larry from local hip-hop radio station Power98 was our host for the evening and he kicked things off with a little DJ battle where each would take turns playing popular songs to get the crowd moving around a lil bit – nothing crazy, but a solid appetizer for our musical palettes. Next up was DJ Dummy. Fun fact: This is actually J. Cole’s official tour DJ. Dummy got a little more crowd involvement going and continued the trend of playing popular hip-hop songs while also sprinkling in a few throwbacks. After his set, No Limit Larry came back out and let us know he had a surprise guest for us, and without further hesitation brought out hip-hop veteran Pastor Troy!

Pastor Troy

Pastor Troy

Smoke shot out of some cannons and snow flakes starting falling from the sky as Troy came out rocking what looked like a WWF championship belt and rapping “No Mo Play in GA”. Old heads immediately recoginzed the track and started going bar for bar with the Pastor. The new cats more or less just vibed along with it. After Troy was finished, No Limit Larry came back out to the stage and introduced somebody who we all knew: DJ Mustard.

DJ Mustard

DJ Mustard

Mustard has a very recognizable, albeit simplistic sound and at this point, everybody knows who produced the song before anyone starts rapping/singing – Mustard on the beat ho!

Mustard went through all of the popular songs that he’s produced, including “My N*gga”, “Who Do You Love”, “I’m Different”, “Post To Be”, and the list goes on and on. He then transitioned into doing what Dummy and the previous DJ’s all did by playing top 40ish type hip-hop songs.

After Mustard was done, we all thought that Fab would be next. This would mark another time in the night where I would be wrong, but I didn’t care because at that point NC LEGEND Petey Pablo came out to “Raise Up”! I flat out lost it and started spitting with him. I actually had Petey’s CD, ” Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry” that featured this song when I was in about 8th grade and I remember just keeping that song on repeat over and over. After the song Petey came down to the front of the crowd and dapped of few people up, myself included! It was honestly the highlight of the evening for me.

PeteyPablo!

Petey Pablo!

Finally, after a lot of excitement and surprise guest appearances, it was time for Fabolous.

Fabolous

Fabolous

He came out rocking a Hornets Larry Johnson jersey with matching Larry Johnson Converse Aero Jam sneaks to the tune of “Lituation” as lights were flashing everywhere, snow was falling from the sky and smoke was blasting the front row of the crowd in the face. It was pretty intense, but we loved it.

Fab went through a Niiiiiiiice setlist that included songs from his recently released “Young OG Project”, classic throwbacks and songs from his Soul Tapes.

1. Lituation
2. We Good
3. Ball Drop
4. She Wildin
5. Can’t Deny It
6. Young’n
7. Superwoman verse (Lil Mo cover)
8. So Into You
9. Can’t Let You Go
10. You Make Me Better
11. Breathe
12. Cuffin Season

13. Foreigners
14. Thim Slick
15. For The Love
16. B.I.T.E.
17. Really Tho
18. You Don’t Know About It
19. Got That Work
20. Rack City remix verse (Tyga cover)
21. Racked Up Shawty verse (Meek Mill cover)
22. Say Aah verse (Trey Songz cover)
23. Throw It In the Bag
24. Throw In In the Bag remix
25. You Be Killin Em

All in all, it was an awesome night with a number of great performances. It’s not very often that free concerts come around, so be on the lookout for this concert series as they go to a few more cities across the nation. Just search for #CLreFRESH on Instagram and Twitter to find out where they’ll be at next. Here are some additional shots we got if they might help sway you on whether you would like to go or not:

Loso

Loso

Dijon

Dijon