Young Jeezy & Freddie Gibbs
House of Blues
August 30, 2011
Better than: Thug Motivation 301: Advanced Quantum Theory with lab
There was a whiff of condescending concern as well as good old-fashioned indignation amongst the hip-hop community's Realness Police when Freddie Gibbs announced he was signing with Young Jeezy's CTE imprint – par for the course whenever an up-and-coming rapper does something that will almost certainly help his career.
On Tuesday night, the two performed at the House of Blues and gave every indication that while they work on entirely different planes as MC's, it's in a way that's almost perfectly complimentary. Jeezy blew up by portraying himself as an unstoppable ghetto champion; Gibbs did so by refusing to shy away from the real and ugly consequences of the hood lifestyle.
Gibbs is lauded for his astounding technique on the mic; Jeezy simply bulldozes through lyrics by force of will and personality. Gibbs can't seem to stop releasing music; Jeezy somehow is able to sign people to his own label despite having all kinds of problems putting out his own record (Thug Motivation 103 finally hits stores September 20th after years of delays).
You probably didn't need to read Rebecca Haithcoat's interview with Freddie Gibbs to know that the two have similar stances on smoking marijuana constantly (they're both totally up for it).
Gibbs' opening set was almost comically truncated set, his 15 minutes would be more appropriate for the typical no-name opener, or at the very least, literal USDA weed carrier Slick Pulla.
As a live performer, he's every bit the no-frills, hardworking and old-school craftsman that he is on record. Rocking a black hoodie, dark shades and a Bulls snapback (I never suspected the Indiana Pacers were doing much to court the Gary market), he motored through what I guess one might consider a tight “greatest hits” package from someone for whom a “hit” is tough to quantify.
Since while Gibbs has clearly won the respect of Jeezy's fanbase, the love or at least dedication isn't quite there yet: while “National Anthem (Fuck The World)” and “Boxframe Cadillac” hit with expected impact, there appeared to be only a dedicated clutch of fans chanting along while most others just tried to keep their drinks from spilling in an uncomfortably packed room. Gibbs did lead the crowd through the always appreciated “'fuck police!'” chant before and after every song; that didn't stop West Hollywood's finest from swarming after a fight broke out during the intermission, which seemed to be over a spilled drink.
Who knows, maybe tensions were high due to the unusually long lag time between doors and opener at the House of Blues. Seriously, what the hell do they need a soundcheck on the keyboards and saxophones and drum set for? Doesn't the House of Blues know that Badfish isn't coming for another two weeks?
But yeah, Jeezy's stepping up his game as a performer, and I gotta admit the full-band setup was really cool, in theory. Even if you aren't into Jeezy — but were alive in 2005 and thus heard Thug Motivation 101 solely out of car windows — you can't front on hearing him open his set with “Standing Ovation” with a two-piece brass section in tow. Look, this wasn't like watching the Famous Flames in their prime: the drummer at times seemed motivated to impress the HOB staff so he might book some work when, like, Gov't Mule inevitably comes to town and the opener needs a fill-in. The two random brass guys disappeared quicker and with less explanation than the two random brass guys from No Doubt ca. Tragic Kingdom. Jeezy's breath control occasionally made it seem like his impressive weight loss couldn't have possibly been the result of cardio.
But more than any show I've seen outside of that Dashboard Confessional concert I'm not afraid to admit I went to in 2001, the point wasn't so much to hear the guy on stage perform, but to use your own ability to shout the lyrics back at him as a means of impressing ladies in the crowd (note to self: see a Young Jeezy show in the winter to find out how people dress for it). Indeed, Jeezy realizes this dynamic and thus played an hour that didn't just lean on Thug Motivation 101, it damn near was his set list from 2006 – a few of the better cuts from Thug Motivation 102 and his Boyz N Da Hood days were included, while The Recession was all but forgotten. Hell, you'd hardly know he had an album coming out in a few weeks if it wasn't for the fleet of Thug Motivation 103 vans circling the area.
Last night indicated that dude shouldn't worry too much about album delays. After all, considering 97% of all cars within a 100-yard vicinity were blasting Tha Carter IV, hip-hop fans are way less fickle than most would have you believe when it comes to backing their heroes throughout interminable label delays and weak singles.
Critical Bias: If Thug Motivation 101 was, like, 45 minutes long it would've beat out Illinois and Silent Alarm on my 2005's albums list. So I endorse Jeezy's setlist. And Gibbs' setlist. And this quote from Gibbs, because it's awesome: “then we do the afterparty or go to a strip club. Then we pour champagne on bitches.”
Also, in the two hours before Gibbs' set, how many tickets do you think the constantly running ads for the upcoming Gomez, Yellowcard and Los Tigres Del Norte shows moved?
Overheard: Any and every line from Tha Carter IV and/or “I'm On One.” Also, big shout to the couple that was a little too disturbingly into each other while the DJ played “Mind's Playing Tricks On Me” during the intermission. I guess the voice of Bushwick Bill just does it for young lovers.
Set list below.
“Born To Roll”
“What It Be Like”
“National Anthem (Fuck The World)”
“Rob Me A…”
“Sky's The Limit/Let's Get It”
“Bottom Of The Map”
“Tear It Up”
“Lose My Mind”
“I Luv It”