There is always a palpable energy when you arrive at a show headlined by a rapper; you can feel it the second you join the queue. Sure, other artists from different genres of music can create a similar feeling, but it’s definitely not the same. The line-up for Juicy J’s sold out show was an event all on its own. The all-ages show created an atmosphere of confusion and chaos with lost tickets, missing IDs, and one too many hopeful fans that must have thought if they just asked nicely, more tickets would be made available.
The opening act, Heatwave and Spac3man, effortlessly established the tone of the evening. Seattle-based rapper Spac3man engaged the crowd with a high-energy set and his ridiculously charismatic demeanour. Despite many people waiting for drinks at the bar or still trying to enter the Vogue Theatre, the opening performers managed to get a full crowd on the dance floor. The following acts tried their best but couldn’t match the enthusiasm brought by Heatwave featuring Spac3man.
The night came to a standstill while Juicy J did a meet-and-greet for fans who made the effort to purchase VIP packages. And when I say standstill, I mean DJ Scholar literally began to fill the time with a hip-hop/rap playlist I can only assume came from his iPhone. Not that the music wasn’t fun, but if I wanted to hear Iggy Azalea or Drake I could have turned on any mainstream radio station. Sure, some older DMX songs found their way into the mix, and he dabbled in some Ty Dolla Sign, but overall, the set became a bit tiresome. To be fair, I am not even sure if his set was particularly unoriginal or if I was just frustrated at the wait for Juicy J.
A founding member of Three 6 Mafia and an Academy Award-winning rapper, Juicy J finally hit the stage at 11:55 PM. To say I was relieved would be putting it mildly. While I may take issue with some of Juicy J’s lyrics, he is one of the more enigmatic rappers out there right now. More recent fans probably know him best from his Katy Perry collaboration on “Dark Horse” or his hit “Bandz” with Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, but Juicy J has been rapping, producing, and writing songs for over 20 years. He is also credited with helping bring Southern crunk to the masses, so reducing his long career, and obvious expertise, to only his most recent endeavours is a bit insulting. My plus-one and I definitely felt our age when he asked the crowd if they knew who Three 6 Mafia was… especially since the majority of the crowd appeared to just scream at anything he said.
Now, I love Juicy J’s rapping style and vocal tone. The richness in his voice is enticing and strangely sexy, even if I don’t always agree with the sentiments expressed in his lyrics. So I was more than disappointed at the length of his performed songs. Juicy J played abridged versions of his songs, some of them ending after about a minute, which obviously left me wanting and waiting for more. I tried to reason that some of the songs had to be shortened because they are collaborations, and those particular artists were not touring with him, but even the songs that weren’t collaborations were shortened. Like I said, Juicy J is a charismatic performer with a distinctive rapping style, so the fact that we waited for what seemed like an eternity for him to take the stage, coupled with his short set, left me and my plus-one feeling indifferent.