Chicago’s ROY takes New York.
At 11:07pm, on June 20th, a packed house at SOB’s in New York City patiently, but anxiously awaited the arrival of rap’s newest Simba. The diverse crowd, which waited in angst as opening act after opening act, including performances the lyrically potent Add-2, Dunston & Torae, helped to build anticipation for the moment all were waiting for. Downstairs, as security tried their best to clear the musician room of all non-press patrons, the mood was light. Chance The Rapper, headlining his first show in New York, didn’t seem the slightest bit nervous. Interacting calmly with two female friends, his manager, publicist and the occasional media personnel, the Acid Rap rapper seemed ready to tackle one of the early hurdles of any promising artists’ career. The SOB stage has played launching pad to many a lengthy and legendary career, most notably Common and Kanye West, who hail from the very city Chance is proudly representing tonight. As Torae’s set came to an end, Peter Rosenberg stalled time to allow DJ Oreo (Chance’s show DJ) to get set up by asking crowed members to update the venue on the score of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. With the result of that game, and the impression Chance would leave on a sold out crowd in one of New York’s most storied and cultured show venues both up in the air, a chant of “Chance” emanated from the crowd, the lights dimmed, and the first song on Acid Rap, “Good Ass Intro”, was cued by DJ Oreo.
As the voices of BJ The Chicago Kid, Lili K, and Peter Cottondale belted out “even better than the last time, baby” over the soulful and subtle instrumental, Chance The Rapper made his way to the stage and stared at the crowd momentarily, taking in the scene and the ambiance, before getting comfortable with the mic stand in the center of the stage.
“Raps just made me anxious, and acid made me crazy”.
And just like that, SOB’s was in a frenzy. From “Good A** Intro”, to the crowd favorite, “Pusha Man”, which featured some unbelievably abrupt gyrations from the 20 year old phenom, into the pensive but still exciting “Everybody’s Something”, the Rapper’s stage presence was tightly bound. There were breaks movement and jumping, but never a break in energy. Despite the second half of “Pusha Man”, aptly titled, “Paranoid”, having an extremely introversive and slightly depressing vibe to it, Chance looked out into the crowd, pressed his lips against the mic–which stayed in the stand for this portion of the show–and delivered every word to the crowd while looking them in their eyes, in an effort to prove he meant every word. Where some artist might lose traction during performances during live renditions of some of their lesser known material, Chance used that fact to his strength, silently pleading with the crowd to bear with him as he introduced them to cuts of of his 10 Day mixtape. Though it was just after midnight, and the temperature inside the packed house wasn’t getting any lower, Chance took the time to teach the crowd the dance he does while performing his Childish Gambino collaboration “Favorite Song”, and put it on impressive display, with energy unmatched by a large majority of performers that came before him. Ending the show with an appropriate turn-up to French Montana’s infectious single, “Ain’t Worried Bout Nothin'”, Chance The Rapper effectively took New York. Aside from the obviously impossible physical interpretation of that statement, its clear what that means. Last night’s performance was reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s usurp of New York’s hip-hop crowd in 2011, as he headlined Southpaw and SOB’s in a span of two months, leaving his mark in lasting fashion. The best part of those roads being mirror images of each other, is that it means there’s a lot more to come.