There was something in the Bay Area air that made the day just about perfect. What more could we ask for when our own San Francisco Giants took the first win of the World Series and then, on the same night, some of the biggest names in hip hop, past, present, and future, all took the same stage? It marked a very good day for us here in The Bay.
Opening the night at the Fox Theater in Oakland was Danny Brown. The crowd knew it was just the beginning of an unforgettable night so they jumped right in and started dancing from the get go. Danny also made no hesitation in opening up with his energetic, adderall infused songs like “XXX” and “Oh Hail No.” With his skinny pants in full effect he closed out his set with the playful and inspiring hit single “Grown Up.”
Schoolboy Q walked to the stage after Danny Brown’s set with a fresh blunt in hand. Being one of the members of the wildly popular Black Hippy Crew the applause for him was quite the welcoming. He performed several songs off his Habits and Contradictions album. It actually amazed me that the blunt never left his hand throughout the first three songs. In fact, I am pretty positive he smoked the whole thing! Then towards the end of his set he started a song that wasn’t his own: the tune of “A.D.H.D” cued and without warning his Black Hippy Crew teammate, Kendrick Lamar, took center stage. Looking fresh in a brand new Giants hoodie and leather pants, Lamar jumped quickly into his chest puffing single, “Backseat Freestyle” off of his new album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D CITY, and followed with his verse off of the new A$AP Rocky single “Fuckin’ Problems.”
Though Lamar’s appearance was a highlight, A$AP Rocky was the man of the night. There has been a lot of hype around Rocky in the last few months. His album LiveLoveA$AP has done incredibly well on the underground circuit. Even the mainstream is showing a liking to him, his psychedelic videos and portrait of youth in america. His collaboration with Lana Del Rey on “Ridin” portrayed the two as the new Bonnie and Clyde, mirroring the pop sensibility of Jay Z and Beyonce. I had a feeling that this was not about to be just another hip hop show. I was correct.
The rest of the show was broken down into three parts. With images of soldiers raising an all black and white, upside down, american flag in the background, I knew right away there would be a message. This was “A call for change,” an ominous voice stated as the lights came up. With a (generally) subdued political theme, Rocky took the stage wearing an all white military style vest. “We’re fighting a war to be understood,” he announced proceeded into action, spitting fire lyrics like bullets in battle.
The stage went black: it was time for the second part. A call to rise and come together and unite was announced. That’s when the whole crew of the A$AP Mob took The Fox over. After a few songs from the rest of his crew A$AP took the time to get the Oakland crowd riled up. “I don’t think you feelin’ it,” he stated to the crowd. He showed his love for The Bay and welcoming out hometown hero, Too $hort. It was amazing to see the crowd get so hyped over $hort Dog’s hit “Blow the Whistle.” After the song Rocky brought $hort close and explained to him that it was an honor to share the stage with him. And with that he brought out another surprise guest, E-40, who then rapped “Function.” The crowd was now wild. Everyone in the house, young and old, knew E-40. There was no question about it, he took the party to another level.
The third, and final, stage showcased A$AP’s performance. It was only right for the host of the show to play a few more songs and make a closing statement. Shoot, he even brought out one more special guest. Once again Kendrick Lamar jumped on stage and performed “Fuckin’ Problems” with A$AP Rocky. To top off the night, Rocky then went into the single that put him on the map, “Peso.” The crowd rapped every word of the song and clung on to its beat until the lights came up. It was an outstanding closure.