Young Jeezy's performance at downtown Phoenix's The Pressroom Saturday night was absolutely stunning. Almost a decade after his major label debut Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, the 37-year-old Georgia based rapper with the raspy voice is still one of the most entertaining performers in the game. Jeezy is one of the few contemporary rappers who never seems to get "G-checked" as they say. It seems universally accepted that "Jeezy really lived it." But at the same time his impeccable street credentials, including winning "Trapper of the year" an astounding four times in a row, have not hurt his commercial appeal whatsoever.
He opened the show with a brief video on his giant LED monitor introducing the "I Seen It All" tour, before announcing that the show was going to be for his "day one" fans. He didn't use the word fans, he used a word that started with an N, but I'm going to use the word fans. He kept his word too: a lot of the material the snowman played came from his platinum major label debut, and even dropped a track off of his 2001 independent release Thuggin Under The Influence.
The light show, and the LED screen both added a ton to Jeezy's performance. But they honestly wouldn't mean much without the charismatic performance by "The Pyrex Kid, AKA Young Arm and Hammer." The style of rap that Jizzle performs may not be as widely popular as it was a decade ago, but Jeezy never claimed to make music for the mainstream. He claimed to make music for the streets.
Young Jeezy has a connection with his audience and he seems to actively cultivate that through his live performance. He's a captivating performer, and it's really hard to look away when he takes the stage. There is a cliche with live hip-hop that it's boring, and just a guy "talking" over music that isn't even live. It seems to have taken the place of the old adage my dad told me -- "Hip-hop is just a fad." But Jeezy was active on stage and engaging the audience. He even took a few minutes after the show to give handshakes and hugs to as many fans as possible.
If the entire experience could be judged by just the hour and half set that Jeezy put on, this review would be a glowing report on how Young Jizzle pours all of his energy into his shows, and leaves the stage drenched in sweat and out of breath. But unfortunately, there was more to it than that.
When I showed up one of the first things I noticed was the armed private security guards standing outside of the venue, I thought armed security around the perimeter seemed like a bit much for a concert. But there they were keeping a watchful eye as a half-dozen or so venue security guards administered rather comprehensive pat-downs of everyone as they entered the venue.
Pat-downs are becoming commonplace at many large events however, so I continued to reserve judgement on the venues security protocol for the evening, until I went to the bathroom. I walked into the bathroom and saw a few open urinals, but still chose to go to the stall side of the bathroom which was separated by a wall. After spending less than one minute inside of the stall I chose there was a knock. It was the bathroom attendant, making sure I wasn't up to any business that didn't involve bodily functions.
We get it, there was a shooting at the Clubhouse almost three years ago, and more than a dozen people were wounded. But that doesn't mean every hip-hop concert is going to turn into the shootout at the OK Corral if the venue doesn't have the place locked down tighter than the neighboring MCSO headquarters. Loosen up, Phoenix. It's only hip-hop, and it isn't going anywhere.
Saturday Night: Young Jeezy at The Pressroom
Personal Bias: My theme song in high school was "Go Crazy."
Overheard in the Crowd: "Take yo selfies now, cause Young Jeezy coming and he's about to break your camera's," some guy just before Jeezy began. I guess he thinks Jizzle is ugly or something.
Random Notebook Dump: "It's really awesome to be in a thousand-person room full of people who really like the music being played. So often going to big concerts there are a ton of people just there for the scene, or to see the fresh new band. But Young Jeezy is a seasoned hip-hop vet with a dedicated fan base who came out in force to get live with one of the best."
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