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Wale introduced his day ones to his new fans last night (Jan. 10) at Irving Plaza in New York City. “This is not a concert, it’s a pep rally,” said the MMG spitta to the crowd. There was a sense of unity in the room. The loyalty and longevity that has kept Wale perpetually fresh all these years was very much present. The DC native ripped the stage and left little room for mediocrity in his wake.

The night began with East New York native, Wordspit, and his band the Illest, who also brought a ballerina on stage. Excellence was in the air. Next, Cali duo Audio Push blessed the room with their gymnastic lyricism and well seasoned synchronicity, demonstrating fully that these are no longer the dance craze rappers they once were. After Audio Push cooled us off with their California kush clouds from hits like “Shine,” Bizzy Crook brought the spirit of Miami on to the stage and heated things up. “I got a story to tell," Bizzy told XXL backstage. "I’m trying to shift the game. The end of the world is gonna have to wait. We got shit to do.”  On stage—with momentary help from the unstoppable Manolo Rose who performed “Run Ricky Run”—Bizzy showed the crowd that he really meant what he said by performing hits off his latest project No Hard Feelings.

WALE

A video posted by @elliottwilson on

Just before Wale touched down, Fat Trel sparked it off with a heavy dose of street bangers. With the anticipation fully peaked, Wale came out. Dipping back and forth between classic hits and new material, he managed to satisfy all allegiances in the room. Then, for an electrifying few minutes, ASAP Ferg joined him on stage and really set it off with “Shabba” and “Work.” Finally, from “Girls on Drugs” to “The Cloud,” which featured an appearance from the elegant Tiara Thomas, everyone present in the crowd last night was reminded of what they loved about TAAN dread head. His passion.—Charles Hoffman (@chargrizzzle)