Best Buy Theater was sold out on Tuesday night for the annual Monster Energy Outbreak Tour featuring XXL‘s 2013 Freshman Class. Hosted by Hot 97 radio personalities Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds, the concert served as a showcase of hip-hop’s buzzing talent. Much like last year’s Freshman class—which now boasts superstars Macklemore, French Montana and more—the 2013 roster features promising artists to watch. Angel Haze and Ab-Soul were unable to attend the show, but the other eight MCs—Action Bronson, Dizzy Wright, Kirko Bangz, Trinidad Jame$, Logic, Joey Bada$$, Travi$ Scott and ScHoolboy Q—put forth strong performances with authority.
Dizzy led off the bill, starting with his well-known hits “Fuck Your Opinion” and “Independent Living.” With an enthusiastic hypeman, the Funk Volume MC ripped through “Can’t Trust ’Em” and won over his fans by crowd surfing to finish his set. Kirko Bangz followed up his radio-heavy collaborations “Walk On Green” and “What Yo Name Iz” by introducing his new single, “Shirt By Versace.” The highlight of the set was his performance of “Drank In My Cup,” which had the entire crowd singing along.
The middle of the evening focused on two Freshmen: Logic and Travi$ Scott. Both MCs took the opportunity to introduce their latest material for the bigger audience. These two also claimed a lot more of the crowd, which exploded as the hosts announced the performers. Logic mostly stuck to tracks off Young Sinatra: Welcome To Forever. From the Freshmen collaboration “On The Low,” to aspiring anthems “The Come Up” and “Ballin,” Logic inserted his humbling opinion about his grind when he felt it was right, even telling us about his recent Kid Cudi co-sign. “It is an honor to be on this stage,” he said. “I represent peace, love and positivity.”
Travi$ Scott had the most hype behind him since this was his first headlining look in NYC. Backed by producer Mike Dean, Scott ran through some cuts from Owl Pharaoh and then captivated fans with “Blocka La Flame” and his verse on “Sin City” off G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer, in which he teased fans before starting the song: “Yeezus? I got a couple joints on there.” After performing his single “Upper Echelon,” Scott hopped into the crowd and stood on the barricade, rapping his rhymes with a piercing delivery.
The rest of the night was saved for the four MCs who already received the most attention since gracing the cover: Action Bronson, Trinidad Jame$, Joey Bada$$ and ScHoolboy Q. Each performer had a pack of devoted fans who delivered on rap-alongs and name chants, as expected. Three of these four artists used their star power to bring out a plethora of special guests. Bronson received a loud pop when Riff Raff joined him for “Bird On A Wire.” James dedicated the remaining minutes of his set to put on for the city of Atlanta, calling familiar faces DJ Drama and his special guest B.o.B, as well as Travi$ Scott again for “Still In This Bitch.” Lastly, Joey balanced his East Coast raps and premiere of an Alchemist-produced track off B4da$$ with D.C.’s own Fat Trel and Chicago’s Fredo Santana.
Thanks to TDE’s recent success, Q found himself as the most established performer at the Freshman show. With no one to accompany him on stage, he fared better in the larger crowd as a solo artist, breezing through tracks from Habits & Contradictions and throwback collaborations with A$AP Rocky. At one point, he asked Kendrick Lamar to join him but laughed at the audience members who fell for his joke. Fittingly, he won the crowd back with his charisma by asking them the title of his upcoming album. “Oxymoron!” they screamed back. And this was done four times over.
Simply put, Q is one of the many Freshmen primed and ready to graduate into rap stardom.
Photography By: Ryan Muir