It feels like every time I’ve gone to First Avenue in the past month there’s been awful weather and it’s down poured right before I walk in the doors. The great thing is, regardless of how poor the forecast is, each time I’m walked through the doors of First Ave I get a certain energy and excitement about the night that’s to come.
I should also mention that this was no ordinary night for me at First Ave, it was my first time attending a hip-hop concert at the venue, not to mention it was sold out! I’ve heard great things about the hip-hop/rap shows that take place at First Ave, but I was never able to make it to one for some of my favorite artist. I knew that this night was going to have some interesting things in store for me.
The first artist I saw was Mereba, a female rapper, born in Atlanta, but now resides in L.A., who has a unique blend of r&b, folk, and hip hop as she lucratively tells stories on top of laid back beats. I really enjoyed what she brought to the stage, not only does she have a voice that makes you feel all warm inside, she can also spit some incredible lines. This girl has it all when it comes to rapping, the speed, the deep rooted meaning behind her lyrics, all while being accompanied by beats that don’t overwhelm her message. I could she her and Dessa collaborating on something truly amazing, as I feel like they both have very similar style and feel to their music.Next on the bill was Chicago rapper, Saba. I didn’t really know too much about his music going into the show, but I can tell you that a few of his tracks have been added to my personal “Top Songs of 2k19” playlist on Spotify. (Yes, that really is the name of the playlist). His songs have an interesting blend between old-school and new age hip-hop, they actually remind me a lot like Chance the Rapper’s album “Acid Rap”. In addition to his well produced songs, he absolutely owns the stage! When I was watching him, it didn’t feel like there was a moment that he wasn’t going 110%, he even said at one point in his set “Every night of this tour has been a fucking party and I want tonight to be just like the rest of them!” I’m not sure if the crowd gave him exactly what he was looking for, in comparison to the other nights of his tour, but from my perspective they certainly started to party hard after he said that. As the crowd held onto their high from Saba, the time finally came when it was J.I.D’s turn to show the sold out crowd a good time. You could tell they were eager for him to take the stage, they started to chant his name “J.I.D, J.I.D, J.I.D” for a few minutes until they all became aware that chanting his name wasn’t going to get him on the stage. Finally, he took the stage and the crowd roared with excitement as he launched into his first song “151 Rum” a bass heavy song that got every member of the crowd singing along and jumping up and down as the beats shook the building and energized them for what was yet to come.
Just like Saba, J.I.D knows how to work an audience. He’s constantly moving around as he works each side of the venue getting his fans to mimic each movement he makes on stage. If he threw his hands up in the air, so did the crowd, it was like clockwork. Whatever he did, the crowd loved it and wanted more and more with each passing moment. At one point after one of his songs, an audience member threw something on stage. I was half expecting it to be a bra or weed, but it turned out to be someone’s demo that they had put on a flash drive. That got J.I.D laughing saying, “Y’all could’ve just handed it to me, you didn’t have to just throw it up here. Y’all need to learn to chill out for a bit.” It’s understandable why someone would try and get him to listen to their demo though, his music is top notch! Now he may not be a Kendrick Lamar or J. Cloe, but you can clearly see the influence those artist have on his music. He has the lyrical creativeness and speed that Kendrick has, but the beats to his songs remind me a lot like what J. Cole raps on top of.Overall the show was intense and I was excited to see how wild the crowd got through out points in the show. I’m usually always at rock and punk shows, so sometimes the crowd is just there to hang back and listen to the music. Not at this show though, everyone was pumped up and jumping around, they wanted to treat this Sunday night like it was their Friday night. I think all the artist that took the stage appreciated that as well, because they’re touring around the country, seeing different cities every night and if the crowd is dull I feel like they almost take that as personal criticism. To J.I.D, Saba and Mereba, you three were fantastic and thank you for making my first hip-hop show at First Ave a success!