XXL Freshman Class 2019 At Playstation Theatre, Monday, July 23rd, 2019, Reviewed
Power 105.1 FM DJ Self and MC had special duties for the night at XXL’s Freshman class 2019 concert at Playstation Theatre Monday night. This was the 13th annual round up of not ready for prime time rappers show, downgraded from the 3,000 capacity Terminal 5 to the seriously smaller 2,150 Playstation Theatre. Playstation is a vastly superior venue and it helped and the evening needed some help, but so do did DJ Self, sending out emergency water to fainting fans and pointing out audience members near the front of the stage as they puked. “A mop over there to the left,” was his war cry.
The evening ran through eleven up and coming rappers of varying degrees of skills in… six hours. Since it was all backing tapes and personal computers, it should have taken half that time., they needed a bigger console someone could set up while somebody else performed and there would have been a seamless transition. It should have started at seven and ended no later than ten. Instead it was endlessly irritating stops and starts. Especially the first hour where DJ Self vamped for half an hour before Def Jam signing, new r&b teenager YK Osiris’s DJ stole half the set to spin some songs (archaic reference -ignore it) then big footed YK’s punchlines on “Worth It” and “Valentine” before r&b singer Ann Marie joined YK for “Secrets”. Nobody even pretends too sing anymore, they join in with pre-recorded vocal tracks whenever the urge takes. The material is good enough, and you get see how he got signed at the age of eighteen, essentially the same age as the majority of his audience, but he needs seriously help on his live show. and shtick like a wander round the floor of the venue will only get him so far.
Philadelphia representing Tierra Whack turned a whole lotta heads last year with the gimmick that has only one minute songs on her debut album, 2018 Whack World, and blew the world away. Tierra’s on Interscope and she is also 23 years of age, and when her DJ tried to stomp her she told him to shut the fuck up, exactly what you’d expect from a woman on Beyonce’s “My Power” last Friday. Tierra is like an anti-Rico Nasty, the name being mentioned is, in fact, Missy Elliot. On stage she is brusque and viable, spitting non stop with an act more aggressive than her recordings. She opened with “Only Child” but got sick of vibing and went for banger after banger on a rock solid 20 minutes.
Not even in the same league was Comethazine, the trap representative for the evening, who stopped and started songs, and didn’t seem capable of concentrating on the job. Sure, arrogance comes with the job description but not if it gets in the way of your job. Comethazin shouted out A$AP Rocky and performed the remix Rocky is featured on “Walk”.
Rico Nasty got a huge welcome from the teen kids in the audience, especially appreciated for a huge singalong to “Bitch I’m Nasty”. Like Tierra, she read the audience fast, they were here to scream on the top of their lungs, and Rico, looking hotter than YK with his shirt off, worked a denim miniskirt that even the huge female contingent in the audience appreciated.
Rico is signed to Atlantic Records, and so is YBN Cordae, who gave the best performance of the evening. I had noticed the guy last year, performing the XXL Freshman 2018 with two other members of the YBN crew, and was impressed then and was more impressed last night. DJ Self singled Cordae out as one of the best lyricists of the up and comers, and his lyricism is accentuated with ridiculously strong skills as a straight up no chaser rapper. In 2019, with both soundcloud and trap in the rearview mirror, the class of 2019 were filled with pop rappers, folks with their eye on bangerz and hooks, and not much more. Cordae is more, he adds a political edge to his work, his debut album drops on Friday, and if the past year is anything to go by this will be as big as anyone since Chance (who rapped with him on “Bad Idea”). After an unreleased, gorgeous, new ballad, he asked if we wanted vibe or turnt, we wanted turnt, of course, so he turnt us.
Is everybody on a major label? Lil Mosey, the definition of not ready for this stage of the game, is signed to Interscope. Wait, not everybody, Comethazine is signed to indie Alamo Records owned by Todd Moscowitz (former CEO of Warner Bros), who is to indie what Bernie is to socialism. Lil Mosey was not only a prima donna but also bad enough to chase me out of the venue, meaning look elsewhere for your Megan Thee Stallion (Playstations most wanted).review. Don’t blame me, I gave em three hours of my life after a full days work. In 2017 I saw a Latin Urbano show with 20 artists in three hours, Jingle Ball and Tidal are much faster. XXL have had enough time to get it right…