Lil Baby Brings His Truth And Authenticity To The Welmont Theater With Jordan Hollywood, City Girls, Blueface and a Surprise Drop In By Lil Kim, This Was One Hell Of A Show
MONTCLAIR, NJ- On April 9th, 2019, I had the pleasure of coming out to see Lil’ Baby tear up The Wellmont in Montclair NJ – and I wasn’t even a little disappointed. Whether you’re a die hard fan, or you’ve only heard the hits a couple times — do yourself a favor. Go see this show. As someone who can be frequently found at EDM shows, I am no stranger to mind-bending production, but that’s something you expect when seeing a DJ. It’s rare, on the other hand, to see such attention to visual detail involved in a rap show. When it comes to hip-hop, you want to avoid taking attention away from the storyteller, who is equally important as the story he or she is telling. You want their message to be loud and clear, so if you’re going to go the route of pulling out all the stops — you better be able to back it up. Aptly named, QC (Quality Control Music), did that, and then some, by putting together more than a concert – this was a real show that people are sure to be talking about for a while. Not only were the openers on fire, Lil’ Baby was absolutely killing shit on the mic from the moment he hit the stage, and the top-tier production served as the appropriate backdrop. That night was an absolute movie, and rightfully so – it seems like Baby’s whole life is one.
Starting the night off was Jordan Hollywood, a fairly recent signee to Quality Control Records. Often times the opening act can be a little bit shaky when it comes to spitting in front of a packed-out crowd, but they were in for a pleasant surprise.
The 25-year-old multi-versed rapper-singer-songwriter was as laid back and confident as the big dawgs that performed later that night. I realized fairly quickly that due to his persona and musical versatility, this guy was unique. Jordan was full of potential that will not only benefit from the experienced guidance of QC, but perhaps even take the Atlanta-based label into a new realm of fortune and possibility. Standing amongst some of the biggest name in trap-oriented hip-hop like the Migos and Lil’ Yachty, Jordan is able to blend poetry about the struggles of a troubled youth with moody and melodic undertones.
The ability to free-flow between bars and crooning vocals is a great way to keep listeners on their toes, and Jordan’s got it locked in. That’s easier said than done in a world where we all seem to suffer from what I call “musical ADHD”, just skipping straight up masterpieces when going through your playlists because you don’t have the attention span to hear it through. Having the patience and skill to dedicate your life to your craft, while simultaneously remaining fearless about how you present yourself makes a good artist great, and I have no doubt that’s where this young man is headed. To close out his set, Jordan sipped a bottle of Hennessy and gave an ode to the late, great, Nipsey Hussle. As the audience roared in unison, Jordan poured one out for the legend, who’s legacy will live on forever. It was a truly powerful moment, and we couldn’t have started the night any better than that.
I have never, I repeat, NEVER, heard female audience members get so loud during a show as they did when the City Girls came on. A perfect combination of sexy choreography and gritty rap makes this duo an absolute blast to see live. During a night full of intense dudes representing their neighborhoods, telling their stories, it was great to see a female spit flames.
I could count the amount of girls who didn’t lose it when “Act Up” came on on one hand. Even dudes were singing the lyrics! As a cherry on top, they brought out Lil’ Kim who, quite frankly, I never thought I’d see live in my life. Seeing two queens go bar for bar like that really breaks down all the gender-related negativity and judgmental nonsense that clouds females in any music genre. These weren’t some cute girls who can also rap a little — these chicks could crush half the rappers in the game today. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a guy, girl, white, black, or whatever. The question is, can you rap?
Someone who’s taken the game by storm since he came on the scene only a year ago, Johnathan Michael Porter, better known as Blueface, had arguably one of the hottest songs of 2019 with “Thotiana” playing in every single club you went to. It’s always interesting to see artists take the stage who are labeled as “one-hit-wonders” or hated on for one reason or another. When he dropped “Respect My Crypn”, in October of last year, Blueface received a lot of mixed reactions.
Utilizing a style that involves rapping off-beat is a reason why this guy stands out when compared to most rappers today — but by no means is he the first to do so. E-40, a Bay Area legend, is one of several legends of the game that was known for rapping off-beat. The keyboard warrior audiophiles of today won’t hesitate for a second to spew negativity just because an artist chooses to go against the grain, and try something new. Whatever hate was being thrown his way, Blueface seemed completely unbothered as he performed with a huge smile on his face. He even brought out his 3-year old son, which even the hardest thug in the room found adorable.
At first glance, Lil Baby might go over your head. After all, there’s a lot of rappers nowadays trying to tell their story, and it can get to the point where a lot gets drowned out by noise or lost in translation. Furthermore, a lot of artists find that white-hot 15 minutes of fame and we never hear from them again. Let me tell you right now, Lil’ Baby is not that guy.
Even with the A1 production, gorgeous dancers, and wild fans left and right – there was no question about what held the audience’s attention – it was Lil Baby’s voice. In addition to the big hits, and his genuine, no gimmicks, real-life story about coming up from the mud, Dominique Jones is the exact opposite of what his rap-alias sounds like. This dude is able to talk about some of the grimiest, hardest, grittiest shit I’ve ever heard in my life in the catchiest way. It was so real, that you didn’t even have to look at Lil’ Baby himself to understand what he was about.
Even us photographers weren’t allowed up close. Instead, making up the entire front and side of the stage, was his family and close friends from the real streets Lil Baby spoke of in his music. Growing up in North Jersey, I can spot out-of-towners pretty easily – so when I see a collective of people who came out to support and show love, I sense a different energy in the building. I feel the truth and the authenticity coming from the music.
From the moment he went on, to when the last song was done, everybody there felt that shit. He made sure to run through all the hits like “Yes Indeed” and the Gunna collar “Drip Too Hard”, but Baby also dropped “Close Friends” which is two months old and “Pure Cocaine” that he dropped in March of this year. Hearing him bang out the songs everyone knew, and then seeing that same energy for his new stuff, really put into perspective that he’s only going to continue growing and evolving as an artist.