Fans held their mobile devices and lighters in the air at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on Monday (January 23) as the self-proclaimed “Kushed God” Smoke Dza, along with SpaceGhostPurpp, Joey Bad@ass, Jay Mothafuckin Steez and G.R.A.M.Z., among others, rocked the venue with nonstop performances.  Sponsored by XXL, the showcase, appropriately-titled Kushed ‘N’ Purpp, featured a lineup of up-and-coming artists eager to prove themselves to their excited crowd.

While the weather was less than perfect, a little rain did not keep hip-hop fans from attending.  Doors to the Chelsea venue opened at 7 p.m. to a healthy, albeit wet crowd. Still, getting a little soggy may have been worth it for the diverse group of hipsters and rap fanatics.

Miami rapper, SpaceGhostPurpp was a favorite opener of the night. The rapper kicked off his performance with a nod to friend, Harlem Native and XXL Freshmen 2012 Prospect A$AP Rocky who later joined him on stage for support.  Purpp who kicked off the new year with new music, rocked the crowd with old and new bangers including his recently-released "Sucka D&#*$)*#))#(#&#)cck 4 2012," the follow-up track to "Suck A Dick." Perhaps even more charming than Purpp’s cool-boy swag and his southern drawl were his dance moves. The emcee thrilled the crowd with impromptu dance breaks, ending his set with a handful of his Raider Klan cooking on stage.

Host Shift Bubz built on the mouthing excitement following SpaceGhostPurpp’s performance, prepping the crowd for Smoke DZA. Fresh off the Smoker’s Club tour, The “Kushed God”  put on a memorable show. Performing songs from his new Christmas Eve-released EP,  SweetBabyKushedGod, the rapper hyped the crowd with tracks like “Christmas in the Trap” and, by the crowd’s request, “Rolling Stonned.”

However, the highlight of the night was a surprise appearance from the A$AP Mob and Freeway. A$AP Rocky, A$AP Twelvyy and Freeway joined Smoke DZA as he performed “4 Loko (Remix).”  True to character, A$AP Mob brought high energy and theatrics with one member crowd-surfing mid-performance and concluding the song by joining the crowd in a full-on mosh pit while chanting “A$AP!”

Freeway had a surprise of his own.  As fans quieted down, the Philly legend turned things back up performing the Roc-A-Fella classic “What We Do.” The entire venue lost it with fans on-and-off stage rapping along with the Philly legend and throwing their diamonds up in remembrance of his tenure at the Roc.

Other openers included newcomer Joey Bad@ss, who kicked off the show.  The 16-year-old Brooklyn native quickly enamored the dispersed crowd with high energy and passion.  Within seconds, fans flocked to the stage, as heads bopped to the young rapper’s melodic beats and raw flow. Later, he was joined on stage by friend and fellow emcee Jay Mothafuckin Steez. The duo, along with their entourage, continued to mount excitement, enticing the crowd with their own party onstage, performing bangers such as “Street Tactics.”

Fellow Brooklynite G.R.A.M.Z. took the stage next. The emcee, whose moniker stands for “Gradually Reviving All Muzik,” is currently working on his fourth mixtape, creatively titled Malcolm’s Little Green Car and set for a February 2012 release. Joined by over a dozen members of his crew, G truly demonstrated his lyrical prowess with songs from his upcoming project including “Da Shizzy (Gee Shit 2.0).”

Smoke DZA slowed things down toward the end of the show with slow-tempo bangers including “Personal  Party,” as fans continued to light up the room with lighters and cellphones.  At the stroke of midnight with lights still dim, the emcee said his goodbyes as fans slowly drifted back into the night. —Shamecca Harris