Big Sean, Kid Ink

Club Nokia


Better Than… hanging out with the people who went to the Lady Antebellum show at Staples Center.

Since 2008, XXL Magazine has anointed a group of up-and-coming rappers as their freshman class in order to show fans what the future of hip-hop will look like. Memorable alumnus include Kid Cudi, Wale, J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa and last night's headliner, Big Sean.

Playing to a packed Club Nokia mixed with hipster b-boys, hip-hop aficionados, college kids and literally everyone in between, Big Sean represented the XXL alumnus and headlined the show. Despite spending a lot of time talking to the audience (who didn't mind the breaks in the music), the Detroit-based rapper performed songs off his popular mixtapes and his album, Finally Famous (a little presumptuous for a debut album, right?), that had the crowd bobbing their heads and flailing their arms on the tightly packed floor area that could barely be seen due to the clouds of smoke.

The rapper informed the crowd that his album song “Dance (A$$)” went double platinum and was greeted by a roar. He continued by telling his legions of fans that album number two would be ready for a summer release and that a bunch of mixtapes would be on the way before that. That's probably a good thing, since the songs that went over well live were the songs off his earlier mixtapes. Everything else sounded like an unimaginative mix between generic modern hip-hop and S.Mouse from the HBO program Angry Boys.

As ordinary as the beats were, it didn't seem to affect the audience, who were singing along to nearly every song. When he wasn't talking, Big Sean's energetic performance had fans bouncing up-and-down and dancing. By the end of his extremely abridged 35-minute set, Big Sean had done what almost every rapper does these days and peeled off layers of clothes so that he was shirtless.

I don't get this trend; you never would have seen Run DMC or N.W.A. do this. But the ladies shouted like they were at a Justin Bieber concert. Sex appeal aside, the kids (the average age was 20) didn't mind seem to mind or feel cheated that the show ended before the 10 o'clock news, which meant they had enough time to get back to the dorms in time to finish up their homework before class in the morning.

Kid Ink was chosen as the 2012 freshman representative to open up the show. Though he has some promise, Ink is plagued by the same problem as Big Sean: unimaginative beats. The highlight of his brief set was when he leapt off the stage and grabbed a blunt from an audience member, which was met with a huge cheer. Not all of the anointed freshmen have had the success a magazine cover seems to promise. If Ink is to avoid drifting off into anonymity, the L.A. native has some work to do.

Critical Bias: I was shocked to see that everything ran on schedule and not hip-hop time.

Random Notebook Dump: If you told me 10 years ago that I'd be counting varsity jackets at a hip-hop show, I would have called you a moron. Joke's on me.

LA Weekly