2 Chainz w/Pusha T
At Friday night's 2 Chainz show at Hollywood Palladium, the lines outside came to a standstill early. The Atlanta rapper has fans of every race, creed, and color, but the majority seemed to be women in pants so stuffed full that they seemed ready to tear. (Or skirts that looked like the designer had run out of material.)
New Orleans bred R&B singer and recent Def Jam signee August Alsina, the opener, performed his hedonistic single "I Luv This Shit." The audience sang along, and Alsina displayed a strong level of confidence and stage presence. When Trinidad James showed up for his verse on the song, the crowd screamed.
After Alsina's set the screens onstage flashed the album art - a barcode on a white background - for Pusha T's solo debut My Name is My Name. In all black attire, Pusha's leather-armed and fur-breasted jacket looked like he had a personal vendetta against PETA.
He kicked things off with album opener "King Push," gesturing while rhyming with an aggressive scowl. This delivery remained fairly consistent, whether it was on the grimy "Millions" or the auto-tuned croon "Hold On." So it goes when you're a drug dealer turned rapper with as many words for cocaine as Eskimos have for snow.
Most of the audience seemed unfamiliar with his more recent solo work, but came to life when he performed his verses on "So Appalled" and "Runaway," off of Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It confirmed how his affiliation with West's Good Music label has been instrumental to the success of his post-Clipse career.
Half way through his set Pusha brought out L.A. rapper Nipsey Hussle, who delivered a solid performance of "Checc Me Out" (Crenshaw).
When Pusha T returned for "Nosetalgia" the absence of Kendrick Lamar made the song feel incomplete. Pusha closed with Clipse classic "Grindin'." He beamed and so did the crowd. It was the right kind of nostalgia.
Before 2 Chainz arrived, the screens onstage displayed a black and white montage of iconic sports imagery, featuring everyone from Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan to Bruce Lee and a rapping Kobe Bryant (yes, this is iconic). Montages befitting each song would become an integral part of the show, which 2 Chainz later described as a "cinematic event." (If anyone knows cinema, it's the man who's made cameos on Law & Order and 2 Broke Girls.)
There were series of pre-recorded silhouettes of 2 Chainz acting, which parted to reveal the rapper, walking out like a lanky NBA forward to perform "Fork." Also clad in all black, he sported a sleeveless shirt, white Channel suspenders (for stunting, not function), and the two requisite thick gold chains.
As he walked moved back and forth between the two onstage ramps, his charisma came through. It helps that he's had a hand in so many hits. Each time he brayed his name the audience happily brayed it back. Unfortunately, the trap beats of his lesser-known songs tended to bleed into one another and many seemed to be waiting for the next single.
As for his dancing? Watching him jerkily bounce and sway is hilarious. He is the rap game Elaine Benes.
He delivered a number of short speeches, the most unintentionally comical of which was his explanation of the title of his recent album, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time. After implying that an abbreviation and an acronym are essentially the same thing, he catalogued the various activities that qualify as 'me time.' Going to the gym and receiving fellatio were two, though Sir Chainz prefers trips to the strip club. "I Luv Dem Strippers" and his verse on Juicy J's smash "Bandz a Make Her Dance" followed, of course.
After performing a raucous rendition of "Mercy" with Pusha T, 2 Chainz paused to say that he would no longer be doing interviews. Apparently, he wants his to relay his info to the 'people who are supposed to know.' In sum: he's working on a new album, starting his own label, and shooting the first 3-D sex tape, which he hopes to get on Netflix. This led into his song "Netflix," which is about....making a sex tape and putting it on Netflix.
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Towards the end of his set, 2 Chainz borrowed Trinidad James' "popped a molly... " chant and sped through "Fuckin' Problems" and "Birthday." Then, while he went backstage for his second wardrobe change, the silhouette of 2 Chainz returned. The screen depicted him having sex with a girl at cartoonish speeds in a variety of different positions. It was... different.
He closed with "No Lie." Though it was sans Drake, anyone who'd tuned out was back on board. Before he sauntered off stage, one of his handlers placed a robe over his shoulders as if he'd just won the title fight. He'd given fans a solid show, but it felt slightly like a pyrrhic victory, as if his best hits might be behind him.