Playboi Carti impresses with live performance

By WILL KIRSCH | September 7, 2017


Robert Henry/cc by-sa 4.0 Atlanta rapper Playboi Carti found success with A$AP Mob before beginning his solo career.

Summer is over, which means that this writer is back on his proverbial cow excrement. That is to say it is time for another article about a concert. While most of the Hopkins community spent their summer working a high-powered internship or impacting some positive change on the world, some of us chose to just work and listen to music.

Being the latter, I had the pleasure of attending a concert by the don of fashion rap, the new face of musical Dadaism: Playboi Carti.

For those who are unacquainted with the Atlanta-based A$AP Mob affiliate rapper, it would be relevant to note that Carti released his debut album Playboi Carti in 2017, literally years after he released his debut single “Broke Boi,” which was lauded across the internet.

With songs like “Magnolia” and “wokeuplikethis*,” as well as features from major names like A$AP Rocky and the rap Troll Doll Lil’ Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti was canonized into the summer soundtrack. Carti’s music is not necessarily technically adept but features quality production — particularly from producer Pi’erre Bourne — combined with good hooks and a catchy flow that makes up for the absent lyricism.

Riding his continuing wave of success, Carti embarked on an American tour which, on August 9, stopped in Washington, D.C. Readers may know D.C. as a city near Baltimore which often pales in the shadow of its vastly superior neighbor.

Regardless, even though D.C. is no Baltimore, I was offered two free tickets to see Carti, so I figured I might as well give the city a chance. Also, I happen to be a big fan of Playboi Carti. So, with that, I linked up with trusted ally and former News-Letter Arts & Entertainment Editor Dubray Kinney, and we drove down to the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Md.

Carti was set to appear with producer Pi’erre Bourne and fellow Atlanta rappers Young Nudy and Gunna. The former two were featured on the entirety of Carti’s summer tour. Nudy is an affiliate of America’s former most terrifying rapper and current contender for the rap game’s “Relationship Goals,” 21 Savage. Gunna, who is also (probably not coincidentally) from Atlanta, is a signee to Young Thug’s YSL Records. Gunna was featured with Gucci Mane and Travis Scott on the song “Floyd Mayweather,” on Thug’s album Jeffrey.

All that said, I have no idea what either Gunna or Young Nudy sound like live. This is because instead of seeing the openers, Kinney and I elected to go to a bar and have some quality conversation. Regardless, they were probably good, but such judgements can be left to others.

After an hour and a beer or two, Kinney and I made our way back to the Fillmore, swimming into the crowd just as Pi’erre Bourne was warming up with a DJ set. As any concertgoer might know, these can be pretty annoying if not done well, but fortunately, Bourne is good at what he does.

Some wholehearted moshing to XXXTentacion’s “Look At Me” prepared the crowd for Carti, who bounced onto the stage looking like a inspiration album from a Reddit thread on fashion.

Here’s the thing about Playboi Carti: He really only has about 17 songs to his name. Arguably, he got famous by releasing one song — “Broke Boi” — and then disappearing from music for two years.

This makes for a difficult concert dynamic, which probably explains why he stopped in the middle of his set and played a 21 Savage song. Other than that, Carti basically ran through his entire album, played “Magnolia” twice and rapped his verses on the various A$AP Mob songs he has featured on.

As far as performances go, Carti was surprisingly good. Some rappers have reputations for struggling during live performances or basically just forgetting to perform. While he did not spend much time actually rapping, Carti played the part of hype man well and that is all you really need at a show like this. The crowd felt it and, much to my pleasure, mosh pits broke out with a healthy frequency.

The crowd itself was somewhat surprising. While the strong presence of VLONE, Supreme, dad hats and skinny jeans was to be expected, it seemed like almost everyone there was in high school. Kinney and I were the only two people we saw with wristbands on, which indicate that one is 21 or over.

This did not stop us from flailing around with reckless abandon in every mosh pit within reach, and I would like to take this moment to apologize to the teenager I body checked while he was trying to Milly Rock.

With the concert finished, Kinney and I made our way back up 95 to Baltimore, stopping on the North Avenue McDonald’s and wondering all the while why Carti played a random 21 Savage song as part of his set. Some questions are too abstract to be answered definitively.

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