The line outside Gramercy Theatre wound around the corner of Lexington and 23rd. It was clear that word about the free Best Of Both Offices show traveled far and fast. 2 Chainz, Asher Roth, Ace Hood, Vado and Gunplay were on deck to celebrate BOBO’s site relaunch and partnership with Complex Media Network.
We all know the scenario: a sea of fitteds and snapbacks, puffy winter vests, few industry folks and sporadic weed smoke. Honies wore far too little clothing for wintertime while fellas held their jackets in their arms as the packed theatre made the outside cold disappear.
The hosts, Young Sav and Steve-O, brought out Jon Connor, the emcee from Flint, Michigan whose latest mixtape Season 2 came out in December. Along with Nina B, A.P. and the other openers, Connor had trouble getting the crowd really into the show. They were hype on stage, but it didn’t translate for the audience. With his passionate and eager performance, Connor was probably the strongest performer out of all the unannounced openers, but as far as the crowd’s interest goes – they must have been waiting for someone else.
In comes Gunplay around 10:15 p.m. The dreadlocked member of Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group was recently featured on a standout oddball track with Kendrick Lamar, Cartoon & Cereal, in which his raspy-voice and southern twang adds an ominous boom to Kendrick’s playful word games. At Gramercy, he performed his track “Bogota” and “Rollin,” but his catalogue was too unfamiliar for the crowd to get into it.
The Harlemite Vado came out donning a grey eight-button peacoat to a handful of fans yelling out ‘Slime!’, his signature verb/adjective/noun that he slips into much of his rhymes. Ace Hood then calmly performed his few major hits as he paced backed and forth from either side of the stage. “Welcome to My Hood” and “Cash Flow” were performed with mediocre response, but the crowd proved that they had a pulse when the Broward County rapper launched into the chorus of “Hustle Hard.” The Lex Luger beat resonated with the crowd — perhaps because they knew that they had to hustle hard to get up for work the next morning.
The fun began when Asher Roth came out to a dim stage over the Blended Babies and Chuck Inglish produced “Bastermating” off of his latest mixtape, Pabst & Jazz. Roth noticed the dull crowd as his DJ slipped on “More Cowbell” (also produced by Blended Babies). After those few verses, the DJ cut to the cartoony “In The Kitchen.” To me, this is one of those beats that anyone can at least nod their heads to, but not tonight. So much so that before his verse started Asher asked, “Is anyone having fun in this motherfucker at all?”
While performing “Kitchen,” he scaled the railings of a nearby platform, sitting comfortably and shifting everyone’s attention 90-degrees counterclockwise. After the song ended, Asher spoke to the crowd: “You guys realize this is a beautiful time for hip-hop music, right? We have a young generation of rhymers that actually give a fuck about what we’re talking about. We’re trying to have some fun and put social consciousness back into hip-hop music. It’s a beautiful fucking thing.”
He concluded by saying, “I’m really happy to be here. I don’t know if anyone else is super fuckin’ happy to be here. I’m happy. It’s fuckin’ Tuesday. I’m healthy. My mom is cool as shit. New York City I fuckin’ love y’all to death.” During “Common Knowledge,” he wandered his way through the gassed crowd. It was an impressive performance for Roth, who was able to truly capture the crowd’s attention and respect and then flip the its perspective as he meandered his way around the theatre.
As the dude next to me said, “He Jeremy Lin’d it.” The last person you’d expect to rock it, rocked it well.
Fortunately for everyone in attendance, 2 Chainz was also a rousing performer. He came out with a blue hoodie and what seemed like a Nintendo Wii controller in his back pocket. As he came out to “Got One” off of his T.R.U. Realigion mixtape, it was clear that it was only a prop for the opening line “Sometimes I have them thoughts like ‘I’m too real for this shit’/labels keep callin’, I need two mill for this shit…” Turns out it was a telephone for them callin’ labels. As the crowd realized it, chuckles spread around the theatre.
This was my first time seeing 2 Chainz perform, so perhaps he is always this animated as opposed to his cool, mellow demeanor during interviews. However, I do remember him selling out SOBs in January, which probably boosted his stage confidence – that is, if he ever needed any help. After his intro, he spoke to the crowd: “They originally told me to do five, ten minutes, but after I stayed back there and waited patiently, I said ‘fuck that shit.’ So I’m ’bout to do a whole show.”
And he did. He performed a good amount of songs off of the mixtape, including “Hard In The Kitchen,” ‘Turn Up, “Spend It,” “Riot,” and “Understatement.” He even performed the 2007 track “Duffle Bag Boy,” from his Playaz Circle days and “Fuck ‘Em” off of Rick Ross’s Rich Forever mixtape.
The love for 2 Chainz in New York is undeniable. The crowd consisted of mostly dudes, as it was the SOBs show, but nonetheless there was an appreciation for 2 Chainz’s rise. Performance-wise, the dude has this intangible calm-yet-unpredictable swagger that is so fun to watch.
As far as the audience goes, I’m just going to blame Tuesday for its apathy.
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