Freddie Gibbs has had an outstanding year with his critically acclaimed album Bandana, the second collaborative project with legendary producer Madlib in a planned trilogy. He continues his winning streak with the “Album of the Year” tour accompanied by fellow rappers Conway the Machine and Cousin Stizz.
Conway’s set was first after some technical difficulties were fixed. Luckily, he rapped a few verses acapella and the crowd gladly rapped the majority of it back. After a few verses, he surprised everyone by bringing out Griselda labelmate Benny the Butcher to perform a few cuts off of his 2019 project, The Plugs I Met.
The show took a more serious turn early on in Conway’s performance after Benny tossed the mic back to his longtime collaborator. In the most emotional point in the night, Conway ended his time with his verse from fellow Griselda member Westside Gunn’s song “The Cow”. The verse detailed Conway almost dying after being shot in the head, leaving his face partially paralyzed. The crowd barely moved as he practically poured his heart into the moment and after it was done, they erupted into a thunderous cheer.
The Griselda duo then walked off to let the third opener Cousin Stizz have his moment to shine. The Boston MC ran through his most popular songs such as “No Bells” and “Fresh Prince” to a crowd that seemed to be less excited during his set compared to the previous openers. Finally, after Stizz finished his energetic set, Freddie Kane emerged from backstage in a cloud of smoke. Donning a boxing robe, he immediately began rapping the intro song “Freestyle Sh*t” to his latest album with prolific producer Madlib Bandana. He then took a moment to enjoy the cheering crowd calling out his name before quickly jumping into singles “Flat Tummy Tea” and “Crime Pays”.
As he continued, Gibbs performed songs from both Pinata and Bandana, as well as tracks from his self-titled project from last year. His rapid fire flows were still impressively on display throughout his set, never missing a line and rapping everything without a backing track. Songs like “Situations” feature a feverish flow that might as well be done in one breath and Gibbs easily slices through the beat hitting every note.
To end the show, Gibbs performed the Anderson .Paak assisted single “Giannis”. He restarted it several times since he wasn’t satisfied with the crowd’s energy and wanted the loudest “SQUAD” we could give him. Eventually, he finished off his verses and let the song play out .Paak’s verses before greeting fans and signing their merchandise.
Gibbs and company brought back something I haven’t really seen in past rap concerts. While the crowd was energetic rapping and jumping along to the sets, the most important aspects was hearing what the lyrics actually meant to these performers. Conway’s verse resonated with the crowd and they didn’t call out to him or cheer randomly throughout but instead listened to the emotion he had while reciting a traumatic moment in his life. Gibbs gave an intense performance of “Fake Names” which is about the parallels seen in a drug dealing lifestyle and while we clearly enjoyed the performance, we still heard what he was saying over the smooth Madlib produced beat. Everyone in attendance hung on to every line these performers rapped, loudly and happily cheering them back each time.
Review By: Tyler Zucker