Five songs into Jeezy’s blistering set in Kansas City last night, he halted the music and proclaimed that the show was postponed.
The hyped-up crowd, who have spent the night rapping, smoking, and turning up was suddenly brought careening back to earth.
But before the air was entirely left from the room, Jeezy stated, “let’s turn this show into a mothafucking Gangsta Party.” As the music blasted back out of speakers, fake snow erupted from cannons at the front of the stage, coating everyone in attendance in powder, courtesy of “The Snowman.”
There are few rappers who have as prolific a footprint as Jeezy. The Atlanta, Georgia icon began his reign in 2005 with the hit album Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101. This album was the streets in Atlanta. Out of every Cadillac, rattled speakers blasting “Standing Ovation,” “Trap Star,” “Bottom of the Map,” and pretty much every other song on this album. In fact, Kendrick Lamar even referenced it on his debut album Good Kid m.A.A.d City, when his friends sang in unison “last time I checked, I was the man in these streets.”
That’s what this music does. It emboldens the spirit. It gives life to the dread of the grind that is life. It pulls us up from the dirt and shows us that there can be something more. It’s all about finding the (thug) motivation within ourselves.
So when Jeezy took stage in Kansas City, it was a jubilant moment for the entire community. Everyone in the venue has had something in their lives that stopped them in their tracks, put them down, incarcerated them in doubt. It would make sense that an artist like Jeezy could get them through that.
The man has CHARISMA. He’s a natural performer. He sells these songs like a hungry battle rapper, putting his heart and soul into every syllable. He looks out at the crowd like a sea full of diamonds. He carries himself like the most confident rapper I’ve ever seen. Not even 50 Cent had this kind of swagger when I saw him years back.
Jeezy performed deep tracks from his storied discography, as well as new tracks off his latest album, “Pressure.” All of them, every song, was sung by the entire audience. I haven’t seen so many smiles from a crowd in a very long time.
Jeezy was supported by hard-nosed Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley, who is one of the fastest emerging rappers in the game. I first heard Grizzley’s music from an Instagram live video LeBron James posted of him working out to Grizzley’s song “First Day Out,” just a couple days after losing the NBA Championship. LeBron wasn’t just listening to the song, he was rapping along, pounding his fist to the beat, refusing to let the defeat get to him.
This is the epitome of Grizzley’s music: success in the face of adversity. In fact, “First Day Out” was released immediately after his freedom from a three year prison stint. To see him onstage, covered in diamonds— side note— rappers have started wearing multiple watches, like, I get it, you’re rich- but you really only need one watch. And even with one watch, a phone is the way most of us check the time. But back to Tee— to see him covered in diamonds and flexing a wad of cash, watching a crowd full of people rap along to his songs, is pretty triumphant. And Tee is a pretty awesome.
Rap shows can be a mess, but they can also be glorious. Sometimes rap shows can reduce what we all have to endure everyday, and lift up the joy that we save for life’s most precious moments. Jeezy made a crowd full of people happy and reminded us that it’s never too late to get it.