Feat. G-Eazy, Logic, Yo Gotti & YG
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
June 29, 2016
On the surface, the Endless Summer tour looks random and uncohesive. In what universe does it make sense to pair a party rapper from Oakland with an underground lyricist from Maryland, or a trap-game veteran from Memphis with a Blood from Bompton (a.k.a. Compton)? Will G-Eazy's pop-rap fans appreciate the reality-rap of YG? Will Logic's fans be willing to slide into the DM's with Yo Gotti?
The short answer is an astounding "Fuck yes!" The truth is that today's rap fans are living in the Internet age, a.k.a. the Snapchat generation. They are exposed to all genres, dialects, regions and styles, and their Spotify playlists meander between club anthems, trap storytelling, hood politics and nerd rap. Their only requirements are honesty and heart, which the four artists on this bill exude in abundance.
Up first was YG. He didn't waste any time in delivering his No. 1 hit, "My Nigga," twisting his fingers and grabbing his crotch (krotch?) across the stage. The big red letters behind him spelled out "B-R-A-Z-Y," which is appropriate for the young blood who reps for his set at every opportunity. He also unleashed a passionate track called "Fuck Donald Trump," just a hundred yards from the hotel that hosted the presidential candidate a couple of Fridays ago. The singles from his new album Still Brazy confirm YG's spot as one of the last relevant gangsta rappers, more Tupac than Kendrick, and light-years removed from the flashiness of the rest of the rap world. Bool, balm and bollective all day.
Yo Gotti hit the stage next wearing an outfit as white as the powder he raps about. Rapping about yayo and his sexual conquests through a white ski mask, he came off as both intimidating and huggable, his smile as large as the bling around his neck. "I run these streets!" he yelled to nobody in particular. What was impressive was how hard the bass hit the Pavilion during his set. It shook the screens that flank the stage as well as every seat from the front row to the soundboard. Performing with a live drummer was a nice touch, as was the mid-set DJ breakdown that hit everyone from 2 Chainz to Three 6 Mafia ("Slob On My Knob"!). Obviously, his viral hit "Down In the DM" was a perfect bookend to his set.
Logic began his set with a new track, called "Flexicution," from his just-released mixtape, Bobby Tarantino. It displays everything he is notorious for: a humble confidence, flowy and dreamy beats, and his signature rapid-fire tongue. "Everything I do, you know I do it for the squad!" he declared. "It's been a helluva ride!"
That ride has taken Logic from welfare to rap stardom, from a life of drugs to music festivals. Along the way, he has amassed a large die-hard fan base, many of whom were in attendance, rapping along to every syllable, or at least making the valiant attempt to keep up.
He also enticed the crowd to yell "Fuck You!" each time he asked if they were tired and wanted to go home. The first few times he asked, I expected the loud response. When he asked again at the end of the set, I was surprised the crowd remembered to fulfill their duty. "Hey Houston, y'all wanna go home?!"
"FUCK YOUUUUU!" came the response. It's a funny way of showing love, but whatever it was, Logic certainly deserves every morsel of it.
The coolest part of his set was when he pulled out his Akai drum machine and produced a beat live. That truly showcased his genius, both as a musician and as a showman. "I am special!" he told the audience. "We all are!"
The evening's biggest question mark was the headliner, G-Eazy. I've seen this guy perform nearly ten times in the past couple of years, both at several SXSW showcases and onstage at music festivals. The talent, charisma and dashing good looks are all there, but I wasn't convinced that he was headliner material.
That perception quickly changed during the course of his performance Wednesday night. In only three years, since he got his break serving as an opening act for his idol, Lil Wayne, he has transformed himself from a tall, lanky, white boy with potential to perhaps the genre's next superstar.
"I'm the coldest white rapper in the game since the guy with the bleached hair" he rapped on "Calm Down." No, he'll never be the greatest rapper, but what G-Eazy lacks as a lyricist, he makes up for with energy, stage presence and an exceptional ability to connect with his audience. And he does so by just being the kid that he is. When he says things like "It's lit!" or "Are we gonna party all night, or nah?!" it comes off as genuine. This isn't some manufactured artist that someone in a boardroom groomed into the next best thing. "I'm just Gerald" he confessed. "Let's have fun!"
G-Eazy delivered as he transitions to the next level. "Got it all, I'm young, rich and handsome" he declared on Wednesday's opening track, "Random." He's ambitious, talented and driven, which is a huge reason why the Endless Summer tour should prove a success.
"I just wanna stay broke forever/ Yeah, that's the shit no one ever said" he proclaimed on "I Mean It." Sure, the way he talks about women is less than ideal, and the party lifestyle may not last forever, but for now, Eazy is primed to take over the game.
Personal Bias: I love me a good rap tour.
The Crowd: See "Overheard In the Crowd"
Overheard In the Crowd: "There's a plethora of white girls in here tonight!" — my +1 with the spot-on observation
Random Notebook Dump: Props to the two spotlight operators who swung from high on top of the stage to provide illumination for the night. But what happens if you need to pee while up there?!
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. You can follow his adventures on Instagram: @MarcoFromHouston.