Waka Flocka Flame

Club Nokia


There's this great moment midway through rapper MGK's video for “Wild Boy,” on which Waka Flocka Flame is featured. “You think you're a good rapper?” MGK asks Waka. “Fuck no,” Waka replies.

See also: Our slideshow of the concert

That was the general consensus when Waka first stepped out of mentor Gucci Mane's shadow on 2009's “O Let's Do It.” Most folks equate being a good rapper with being a good lyricist. But lyricism rarely trumps charisma, unapologetic aggression, and hooks that embed themselves into your head. When his 2010 debut Flockaveli was released a year later, it was clear Waka's had the latter qualities to spare.

Credit: Danielle Bacher

Credit: Danielle Bacher

One of Waka's strengths is his ability to create a maelstrom. Seething with testosterone, his barked adlibs and howl of “Brick Squaaaaaaad!” should probably never be played at a high school pep rally unless the principal's prepared for a riot.

That was the energy last night at Club Nokia, even though the crowd was surprisingly sparse, at least on the lower level. Waka burst onstage around 10, convulsing as his drummer and DJ, both shirtless, bounced about wildly. Within a couple songs, he had untied his ponytail and began banging his head; within 20 minutes, he had disappeared deep into the audience on “Death of Me.” It was a full concert played in fast forward.

“I feel like that was my warm-up,” he said after clambering back onstage.

Waka added: “I don't fuck with no mainstream rappers; they too bougie.” He then brought out seminal Texas MC Trae the Truth for “I Got 'Em.” As “Lurkin's” menacing beat churned, Tyler the Creator and Mac Miller flew out from the wings and flung themselves across the stage.

Waka's DJ kept leaping onto the speakers at the side of the stage. He looked like he might fall, and his drummer kept picking up the box fan to cool the sweating pouring down his face. “No Hands” came on and the crowd almost seemed spent.

Hardly an hour had passed.

Waka was able to go at that frenetic pace for almost another hour; that's probably because he didn't rap all that much. Letting the backing tracks and audience fill in the blanks, sometimes he would just drop his mic and mouth the words. It's a testament to his overwhelming charisma that it was endearing and not annoying. Besides, the second hour of the show was mostly hits like “I Don't Really Care,” “Live by the Gun,” “Grove St. Party” and “Round of Applause” (nice touch inserting gun blasts at every “Bust it,” DJ Ace). Everybody wanted to sing along.

Credit: Danielle Bacher

Credit: Danielle Bacher

It was “Hard in Da Paint” that finally did everybody in. Jumping into the crowd for the entire song, Waka was swallowed up, his location clear only by the clump of people shining camera phones and pogo'ing up and down especially violently. Returning to the stage for a few minutes, he suddenly set down his microphone and walked off. The show ended just as it should've — abruptly.

Personal bias: How can you have a pulse and not be exhilarated by Waka?

The crowd: Mostly male. A group of hippies in medical marijuana shirts, a GQ-looking guy in a suit who kept shouting, “SQUAD!”

Random notebook dump: The drummer had on a pair of boxers with the word “Tickles” emblazoned on the ass. Is that some new brand?

See also: Our slideshow of the concert

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