As I start this article, I’m sitting here hoarse, sweaty and exhausted after seeing one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to and a few things are on my mind. By the time I finish and polish this it’ll be a gem, so bear with me for the delay.
Energy in motion is a phenomenon that we experience on a daily basis. The rush of euphoria that flows through your body when you see that check hit your account. A flutter of butterflies in your stomach when the person you love does something sweet. The heat and pressure of anger building inside of you.
It’s iamazing that those occurrences are literally energy moving around inside of you. That they aren’t physical changes, but literally electrons rapidly responding to your thoughts and feelings. Man, the human brain, spirit and body don’t get enough credit.
The proper term for energy-in-motion is obviously emotion, and music is what emotion sounds like. The confidence and selflessness of an artist, purging their feelings, whether they be positive or negative, onto a track for other people to respond to. For others to relate to and ingest. For others to FEEL.
Saturday night I shared energy with 20,000 + people, mostly my people, in a downtown Atlanta arena for the illustrious Birthday Bash 20. For my out of town readers, this concert is Atlanta’s Summer Jam, just better. Atlanta is the current hip hop capital of the world and you can best believe that everybody who you wanted to see and more showed up.
I have a firm belief that you can listen to music all you want, but you truly can’t appreciate the art until you hear it live. I am a Kanye West Fanatic, I’ve seen the nigga live over 5 times, and I didn’t appreciate the album Yeezus until he rapped Guilt Trip on the floor surrounded by women.
Regardless of my fanhood, it’s safe to say thatKanye’s set was awesome, but he was not the star of the show at all. Someone else has the crown.
So, I got to the arena and grabbed my ticket from my boy Jamal (Flash I owe you forever) and we arrived and settled in just in time to see New York’s own DRAM perform his cult smash “Cha Cha”. (You’re singing it right now. I like to Cha chaaaaa) He actually put on a hell of a show, flailing his arms and dancing around on stage like a wild man. He only performed that one song, but he did well, and his live vocals were on point. He was like a vocally inclined, black Donnie Thornberry.
Next up was Atlanta’s own Slum Lord, K-Camp, who had a barrage of local hits to perform. He kicked the show of properly and started to get the energy flowing in the building. He effectively made the crowd simmer and start to bubble. Please don’t slay my hoe.
Evidently BOB came out and had a decent set where he brought out Scotty ATL. I stepped outside to have a text argument with my ex, and have some chicken because it was time to break my fast and service inside the arena is DISMAL.
Atlanta Legend and Ralph Lauren poster boy Young Dro was the following act. He skipped on stage to the familiar whistle of “Ain’t I” before performing the first verse of “FDB” and finishing off his set with “In Da City” in it’s entirety. I was kind of disappointed with the crowd while Dro was performing. I was one of the only people hype in my section. Like, show some love! I expected him to be the X factor in the concert.
An Offset-less Migos were next act to grace the Birthday Bash stage. Dressed in all white, gold and dreadlocks, they put on a decent show. Opening up with Hanna Montana, they had the hits, but truly lacked stage presence. There’s a possibility that they were just too high, but I give it a 6 out of 10.
The champion of the 2000’s and South Atlanta’s own Ludacris and his best friend/hype man Lil Fate came out and took us all back to middle school. They really turned the crowd up by pitting us against each other, influencing and instigating foul slurs, yelling and chants. FUCK DA OTHA SIDE. So after performing “Southern Hospitality” and “What’s Your Fantasy” – Luda decided to ignite the stadium by performing MOVE BITCH and bringing out Mystikal himself to perform his verse, which sent us into a frenzy. Lastly, Luda brought out Memphis’ own Yo Gotti as his special guest as we all exploded to some cocaine music.
The self proclaimed Savior of the DMV, Wale Folarin, rolled onto the stage in the most glittery of smoking slippers to put on a SHOW. Wale had a particularly rough placement on the roster because he was the act right before the person who we all came to see, Future. Surprisingly, He was the performer who flipped the switch in Phillips Arena that night. He jumped into the crowd and performed songs, smoked a fan’s blunt and literally moonwalked across the stage as “Clappers to the Front” Blasted.
In addition to the excitement, Wale got the women involved with poetry and love songs. One of the highlights of the entire night was Wale asking Atlanta if it was okay for him to “take it up north” for just a little bit. When we obliged, Jim Jones greasy head ass ran out and performed the classic “We Fly High.” Of course I shot my jumper, BALLIN!
My favorite part about Atlanta concerts is how they acknowledge smash records even when the artists aren’t there. Future had a fairly elaborate set up, so there was time between sets.
The Dj says:
Everyone that’s here with a friend stand up! Stand up right now and grab they shoulders cause you here with your people! Stand up! Everybody!
The celestial horns soon followed right before a very familiar phrase: “MAN I GOT SWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAG”
20,000 People swaying back and forth, a mass fucking swag surf. Fuck that DJ though, he turned the song off before we got through the chorus. The song did its job though, the lid was getting ready come off.
Finally! The moment that we had all been waiting for. After years of smash records and an unbelievable run that started the night “Monster” dropped, we were blessed to be in the presence of Atlanta’s lord and savior. The chosen artist who is a combination of Young Jeezy and Outkast, Future Hendrix, the Wizard.
All the other artists ran on the platform via stage right. Not the wizard though. The jumbotron in the arena played a short introductory clip of Future being wheeled into a doctors office, bound to a operating table wearing a straitjacket. BAM, the doctor shocks him and the screen on the main stage lights up with personalized artwork and effects as the lighting around the stage flicks to purple. Thick fog rolls out of a hole in the floor as the beginning of “Chosen One” Plays and there arises Future, wearing all black, a plethora of jewelry and a Hannibal Lecter mask.
The stadium fucking erupted and started going word for word with future. You have to understand that in the hip hop world, Future is the man right now, and for him to be in his home city for the hometown concert after being on the road for months? Marvelous is an understatement.
Future cracked us across the head with hit after hit. I was so hype that I can’t quite remember everything, but I remember the entire stadium exerting a massive amount of energy when “SHIT” came on. He then dabbled into mixtapes, giving us a verse off of “Monster” followed by the exteremely rhythmic “Lay Up.” The coolest DJ in the world then proceeded to let Zaytoven’s magical keys coerce me into tiptoeing down the isle as 20,000 people spent a check on that pussy.
DJ Esco and Future’s chemistry is one that should be recognized and admired. Esco had the perfect songs aligned, the sound was wonderful and the drops, scratches and timing were impeccable. After Fute performed one of the previously mentioned songs, Esco asked us all to raise our lit phones to the sky, and explained how Fute was going to perform a song for the victims in South Carolina and about how fucked up the world was.
DRESS IT UP AND MAKE IT REAL FOR ME!
Phillips Arena twinkled with the flashlights and home screens of iPhones and galaxies alike. If a nigga had a Nokia flip phone out there, he was holding it up. We all waved our phones back and forth like we were at a fucking Journey concert as future performed “March Madness” in its entirety. With no auto tune, future performed the song flawlessly, never getting tired or falling out of key.
Future then asked us if he could bring someone out and out waltzed black ass Meek Mill, performing his smash “Monster.” While future was below stage taking a codeine break, Meek performed his gospel “Dreams and Nightmares”, with everyone in the house screaming HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE.. at the top of their lungs. The performance was so turnt that Wale and Future ran BACK on stage to jump around with their boy. I thought that was pretty cool.
Just when you thought shit couldn’t get any more live, Meek mentions that he wants to bring out someone special and lo and behold, it’s his shorty, fucking Nicki Minaj. She came out wearing all black and some colorful ass sneakers, lower body looking like tree trunks. Every woman in the stadium jumped to their feet and applauded and as soon as Nicki grabbed the mic she asked:
WHERE ALL MY BAD BITCHES AT??
At this point, I’m having sensory fucking overload. I’m so stimulated that I’m not sure I can take anymore. My blood pressure is up, heart is racing and shit. Future then mentions that he has another guest and starts to sing:
Oh my God, Oh my God, if I die, I’m a legend.
Drake starts running through hits of his own and the hits of others including his verse on Fetty Wap’s “My Way”, and some other shit. The performance I remember the most is “Know Yourself” Where Drake jumped around stage and fireworks exploded from the pyrotechnics as he exclaimed:
“I WAS RUNNING THROUGH THE SIX WITH MY WOES!”
Drake finished off his set with “Energy” a proper closing song and a great represtation of the evening. After a short speech about how we should all be proud of Future and how he’s smashing the world, Hendrix then returned to the stage for a final display of bravado, a closing song that we are all so familiar with. A record that should be written on scroll in black ink and hung in the Capital.
I wish you all were there, but I can only explain it. There was a feeling, you know? We all knew what song was next, and we kind of expected something to happen, but we didn’t particularly know. There was a certain excitement inside of all of us to share the experience of hearing this remarkably energetic record in person, but in hindsight? I think I was apart of an outer body experience
“Fake nigga lie to a real nigga, that’s just some shit that you don’t do.”
The intro of the smash Fuck Up Some Commas seemed much longer than normal because of the anticipation. As soon as the beat dropped it was like the fucking roof came off the place. A wave of energy jolted through the building and set the place ablaze. I remember looking up and seeing the people in the VIP suites hanging over the rails. The people on the floor were vibrating and pulsating like a can full of pennies on top of an active subwoofer. The level of energy was so intense that people who hadn’t moved the whole night were now on their feet. Even a white couple was awkwardly dancing in front of me. The few thousand people to my left were all in sync, jumping and bucking around. In that moment I was wondering how Future felt. How did it feel to have all that power? How did it feel to encounter and ingest all that love from your own city?
Do you guys see the energy in that picture above? It was purely amazing. Drake stayed on stage for Commas, so I want you to let something sink in. How big of an artist are you going to be when Drake is YOUR fucking hype man? How good are you where one of the best in the game is reciting your shit line for line?
After participating with the crowd in a chant of “Give no fucks yeah, we don’t give no fucks yeah” for a solid 30 seconds, Future’s spectacular set came to a bittersweet close. He was sweaty, locks hanging everywhere, but he left it all on the stage.
Bravo, young man. Bravo.
Hip Hop’s Lord and Savior Kanye West was the final act. His stage setup was subtle and minimalistic, yet extravagant at the same time. He opened up with Power, The lights flashing with the clap and bass. After performing Black Skinhead or New Slaves, I can’t quite remember which one, he freestyled a powerful piece about how white folks still owe us, and how we have to make sure that the media doesn’t convince us that he’s crazy.
Ye performed a barrage of songs from Yeezus all the way back to Late Registration and The College Dropout. He performed Touch the Sky and I legitimately almost tore my ACL jumping around. YEEZY also did Atlanta a solid and brought out 2 Chainz to perform his verses on Mercy in addition to Birthday Song in its entirety.
I love how Kanye puts his soul and life into his performances. He brought up how he predicted his wife on Gold Digger, and how he was born in Atlanta and his parents met here while performing Good Life.
Finally, Kanye performed All Day in the most niggerish way possible with 2 Chainz, Soulja Boy, Honorable CNote and 20 other niggas on stage.
This was easily one of the best concerts that I’ve ever been to. The crowd, music and performers all blended perfectly. Kanye had a great set, but he came second that night. Future Hendrix was the star of the show and is hands down king of the city.
My only disappointments were the fact that I couldn’t get drunk because I’m fasting, Young Jeezy’s bald head ass didn’t show up to do Put On with Kanye, and that Future didn’t turn the lights down and finish the night off with Codeine Crazy, but hey, we can’t get everything we want. Regardless, the show was an amazing experience that I can only relive in my head.