Living in New York City there is by no means a shortage of concerts to attend. If one happens to be a fan of hip hop you can easily choose from multiple shows per week, spanning the gauntlet from an intimate gathering at a small bar/club to a monster concert at MSG or the Barclays. This can provide someone the opportunity to see artists who are both really on the come up and trying to build a fan base, as well as acts who are already in the spotlight.
Hot 97’s ‘Who’s Next’ event typically highlights someone who is in between those two levels. All who perform here are not equal, ‘Who’s Next’ can often mean, “who is right now” , or can sometimes mean “who is on there way there.” Last night I was excited to find out where Chicago native Vic Mensa fit into that puzzle. So much of this excitement was based on the fact that in the past 2-3 months i’ve gone from someone who barely knew anything about the young spitter, to one of his biggest fans and supporters; in fact i think im subconsciously tired of saying to people “you know who you’d probably like… this guy Vic Mensa.”
But it definitely was not all about Vic, the event featured an opening lineup that was probably top to bottom the best one Hot 97 has put together so far. After host and extraordinaire Shani Culture spoke to the crowd for a bit he introduced the winner of Hot 97/ Boost Mobile MC Battle KB Yung Hustle who won a single deal with Duck Down Records; that song produced by Statik Selektah (who was in attendance last night) you can check out here.
NYC’s own witty wordplay warrior Rugz D Bewler was up next. Bewler – who has been around way before you heard the Paris Beuller drill music drop- hit the stage and performed the 2013 Kanye sample inspired “On Point” as well as “ET” which appears on his newest release Bene‘, that you can check out HERE.
Next up was co headliner Nitty Scott. This New York City female fire spitter/new age caramel hippy who is probably best known for her BET Cypher performance , made a great decision to have a live band back her. Nitty’s best characteristic is that even though she is obviously nice on the mic, as she proved by spitting her rapid fire “Bath Salt” freestyle last night, she also knows how to craft a song. Looking cute but serious in her Schoolboy Q bucket hat, Nitty performed a really solid and lengthy set which included her Kendrick Lamar collaboration “Flower Child” as well as a “Feng Shui,” an unreleased song off her upcoming album The Art Of Chill.
After a few tunes from DJ Juanito, Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg came out to introduce Vic Mensa. As the first few segmented notes of his single “Lovely Day” came out the speakers Vic hit the stage with a purpose. While he rapped along the first verse he held his hands out toward the crowd and counted up from 1 to 4; as if to say “all eyes over here, don’t forget this is what you came to see.” Vic’s Savemoney crew brethren Chance The Rapper has become almost famous for his ultra exuberant performances including dance breakdowns and crowd surfing, so it was extra interesting to see how Vic controlled a crowd that certainly included a number of people who were unfamiliar with his music, in a way that was composed but definitely not lacking in energy or movement by any means.
He ran through nearly every song off his seminal Innanetape (The Source awarded it the #2 mixtape of the year in 2013) as well as his newest 2014 release “I Feel That,” at one point he played
Soulja Boy Drake’s “We Made It” and bopped along to it for about 10 seconds to get the crowd hype. Speaking of OVO’s El Jefe, Nitty Scott also wooed the crowd with her own version of “Trophies” earlier in the night. Vic even premiered a previously unheard track most likely titled “And They Wit Me Now” which was bumpin!
It was truly an experience seeing someone like Vic who I feel has a LONG career ahead of him perform at such an early stage of his career. Whats great is it seems that he really understands himself, and what people like about him. I say that because I can’t imagine a more fitting & more hip hop ending to a concert than an impromptu freestyle session; especially when you take into context that many people’s first taste of Vic Mensa came in the past year during the numerous incredible freestyles he spit on shows like Sway In The Morning, MTV Rapfix, & Showoff Radio . Vic’s presence will only grow, he mentioned leaving for a tour of Germany immediately after the show, I can’t help escape the feeling that next time he’s back in New York City it will be on a whole new level.