11 Memorable Moments From The 2014 XXL Freshmen Show In NYC
Photography By: Lauren Gesswein
The Freshmen Live Tour 2014 is our showcase of upcoming talent featuring Chance The Rapper, Rich Homie Quan, Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Durk, Kevin Gates, Troy Ave, Vic Mensa, Lil Bibby, Jon Connor, Jarren Benton and August Alsina. Last night (June 9), 10 of our cover stars graced Best Buy Theater for a huge performance that captivated old and new fans. August Alsina and Lil Bibby were crowd favorites, Kevin Gates was welcomed for his first show in NYC, Troy Ave and Ty Dolla $ign brought out cool guests, and more. Here are the 11 memorable moments that went down at the Freshmen show. Be sure to cop tickets for the Los Angeles show on June 25 for an encore.—Eric Diep, Dan Rys, Emmanuel C.M. And Miranda Johnson
Jon Connor Fires Up The Crowd
Connor's relentless positivity and defiance-in-the-face-of-the-haters attitude made him the perfect man to open the show. With his Aftermath debut LP on the way and a jacket proudly boasting his hometown of Flint, Mich., on his back, he promised fans that he and Dr. Dre would bring his full story when the album drops, and the fans' screaming reaction proved that they can't wait to hear it.—DR
Jarren Benton's Live Show Was Amazing
Jarren Benton's rapid-fire flow came out in full force, opening with "Billion Bucks" as his manager and label CEO, Funk Volume's Dame Ritter, watched on crutches from the side of the stage (Dame had broken his leg). The People's Champ showed and proved that he deserved that distinction, as the fans came out to support the high-level of lyricism that he stepped up with.—DR
Lil Bibby Gets Huge Fan Response
When we asked Lil Bibby if he was ready just minutes before going on stage, he simply replied, “I was born ready.” Bibby may have a reserved personality on the surface, but he came alive for his set that got the biggest ovation. Starting things off with “Water,” he methodically went through his mixtape hits with poise and confidence. His biggest track “Kill Shit” had a lot of energy, as well as his drug slangin’ anthem “For The Low.” “How many of y’all fucking with that Free Crack?” Bibby yelled. From our vantage point, it sounded like everyone was down with his movement.—ED
August Alsina Representing R&B
For the first time ever, the XXL Freshman Class had a R&B artist. One thing is clear: The ladies love August Alsina. When the NOLA native took the stage, the crowd erupted. Every woman in the front row was screaming and shouting. Alsina's set was long, but it wasn't boring because of his good stage presence. He was able to keep the crowd's attention the whole time, and it didn't bring down the energy of the night. It still felt like a hip-hop show.—E.C.M.
Kevin Gates' First New York City Show, Performs "Satellites"
Gates brought his street Southern style to the Big Apple. It was received with a mixed reaction. Some of the audience knew his songs and were with him passionately, while others were trying to feel him out. Regardless, Gates' raw emotion and ruggedness were sights to see as he causally dropped knowledge in between his songs. His set may have been a bit rough around the edges, but he definitely gained more fans when it was all said and done. The highlight of his set was undoubtedly his performance of "Satellites." Whether you knew the song or not, you felt the energy he was outputting.—E.C.M.
Busta Rhymes' Cameo Appearance Backstage
As a hip-hop veteran and true supporter of the game, Busta Rhymes came through last night to show the newbies some love. Hanging backstage with Troy Ave, August Alsina, Rich Homie Quan and Ty Dolla $ign, Busta relayed a few words of wisdom to the rising MCs telling them to continue to work hard and embrace their talents. —MJ
Vic Mensa Rocks Out, Throws 1990s Dance Party After His Set
Without even waiting for DJ Drama to introduce him, Vic Mensa vaulted onto the stage with a seemingly limitless energy (it was no wonder he nearly fell asleep at one point backstage following his set), launching into "Feel That" and dropping bombs left and right, getting a particularly large pop for his recent earworm "Down On My Luck." Later, during a lull in the show after Rich Homie Quan had the building rocking with "My Nigga" and while Troy Ave was still setting up, Vic's on-stage DJ, DJ Oreo, hopped up to the turntables and dropped a brief 1990s dance party set out of nowhere, throwing out some classic hip-hop gems.—DR
Rich Homie Quan Supplies The Hits
Rich Homie Quan probably got the best reaction from the crowd. The hits were evident. "Walk Thru" and "Type Of Way" had the crowd singing word for word. By the time he ended with "My Nigga," a drenched RHQ didn't even have to say the hook because the crowd sang it for him at a deafening level.—E.C.M.
Troy Ave Brings Out Fabolous
Troy Ave pulled out all the stops as the hometown hero. With his B$B crew in tow, the Brooklyn rapper got the audience warmed up to “Cigar Smoke” and continued to energize the crowd with “Show Me Love.” Once Troy got settled in, he kept delivering that classic feel with more bangers such as “Your Style.” Just before his time was up, Troy saved the best for last by bringing out Fabolous to perform his remix to “Cuffin’ Season.” As the crowd rapped along the words, Fab stuck around to salute NY’s own. They left on a high note with “Only Life I Know” off The S.O.U.L. Tape 2. Powder to the people!—ED
Ty Dolla $ign Closes With Kid Ink And August Alsina
One thing is certain and that is Ty Dolla $ign killed the stage last night. Performing his array of hits like "Irie," "Or Nah" and "Familiar," Ty performed like a veteran. Toward the end of his set, the singer brought out Kid Ink to perform "Show Me." August also stuck around to support Ty during his performance of "Paranoid," which he did not once but twice.—MJ
Lil Durk Hanging Out After The Show
Lil Durk's flight issues had him landing at LaGuardia Airport at 11 p.m., meaning he wasn't able to make it to the venue until after the show ended. But he could still be spotted hanging around backstage, taking photos with Kevin Liles and reconnecting with the other Freshmen. Signed To The Streets 2 is coming June 18.—DR