YG with Kamauyah and RJ at the Vogue Theatre, 11/21/16
As the sun went down on a rainy Monday evening in Vancouver, young people from all over the Lower Mainland lined up outside the Vogue Theatre to see their favourite rapper, hailing from one of California’s grittiest neighbourhoods – Compton, or ‘Bompton’ as YG calls it. Dressed in red (YG’s colour of choice) and undeterred by the torrential downpour, these ticket-holders were rowdy, tipsy, and eager to get through the doors and begin the night’s turn up.
First up was Kamaiyah, an MC from Oakland, California. Taking the stage, she made a point of introducing herself as ‘the first lady of the “F*** Donald Trump” tour’. She had a few brief words regarding America’s new President-elect, instructing the crowd to raise their middle fingers. Kamaiyah proceeded to move through a series of tracks from her debut album, A Good Night in the Ghetto, released earlier this year. Her subject matter dealt heavily with poverty, detailing what it was like being an impoverished female in Los Angeles, but it was also about success and the finer things in life: “More money, more problems/Now I’m sippin’ Moet out the bottle,” she recited.
Following Kamaiyah was RJ, presumably one of YG’s back-in-the-day homies, and also rumoured to be the premiere signee of YG’s brand new 4Hunnid Records imprint. Donning two diamond-encrusted necklaces and a backpack designed by OMMIO (RJ’s own clothing line, which stands for On My Momma I’m On), RJ went on to rip through his vast catalogue of mixtapes. His music varied from praises for financial independence, to odes about shopping at Cali dispensaries with his female companions, and an anthem about disproving his naysayers by angering them with his flashy lifestyle.
By the time it was YG’s turn to take the stage, everyone was lit up from the alcohol consumption and starting to get restless. There was a lot riding on YG’s performance after what happened at his last Vancouver appearance back in 2014: He was caught lip-syncing, and after one song, he left the stage. His manager claimed that YG had lost his voice, though his voice was perfectly intact when he performed in Toronto the next day. Instead of refunds, fans were told they could take selfies with the rap star, which never happened due to an ensuing uproar of commotion. As the crowd erupted with chants of “Fuck Donald Trump”, the lights dimmed and the evening’s headliner mystically appeared on stage before his adoring fans.
YG graciously moved through all of smash hits, dating as far back as the 2010 club anthem, “Toot It & Boot It”, featuring vocals from frequent collaborator and fellow west coast crooner, Ty Dolla Sign. First, he took everyone through his hometown of Bompton with tracks like “Party” and the eerie, synth heavy “BPT”, accompanied by images of palm trees and lowriders displayed on the monitor behind him. Seeming like he was saving energy for the second show which was to happen later that night, he continued to move the crowd with a change of pace by incorporating some of his downbeat songs like “My Word Is Bond” from his latest album Still Brazy, released earlier this year.
Like any good performance from a rapper nowadays, there was plenty of commentary between songs, some of which was political. Before YG’s substance-induced “Really Be (Smokin’ & Drinkin’)”, he declared that it was officially time for a 420 friendly smoke break, insisting everyone to roll up and light up. Though the venue was hazey and many were red-eyed, the Compton-bred gangster still had a few left in the chamber. After explaining that his hypeman, latino rapper Sad Boy Loko and a few members of his entourage weren’t able to cross the Border for the Vancouver performance, he presented a question to the audience: “Who’s here with their friends tonight? Not that person you met [on] Instagram two days ago, I mean your real friends”. As YG went on to express his disdain for travelling without his cronies, he rolled out the double platinum record “My Hitta”, produced by DJ Mustard, a close friend who originally met YG through the house party scene in Los Angeles. Many standout tracks of the night were from YG’s 2014 magnum opus, My Krazy Life, including the booty shaking theme song “Left Right” and the Drake assisted “Who Do You Love?”.
Before getting into the final song of the night, YG voiced his concerns about the new President-elect. He perceived Trump’s campaign as bigoted, and YG doesn’t stand for racism. After a minute or two of banter, the venue rumbled from the bass of the evening’s final song, aptly titled “Fuck Donald Trump”, which was also the name of YG’s North America tour. With the explicit title emblazoned across the stage monitor in red capital letters, the record quickly detailed the doubts, frustrations, and fears he had for Trump’s presidency, resonating much of the commentary he provided throughout his performance. For the last verse of the track, seemingly out of nowhere, a mannequin dressed as Trump was tossed into the crowd, fully equipped with tanned skin, a suit, and a comb over.
As the lights came back on and the music ended, everyone was beaming with satisfaction. Before bodies began shuffling out the front doors of the Vogue, YG used the opportunity to thank his fans and supporters once more, as well as make a surprise announcement: “I got a new album coming out at the end of the week called Red Friday!”