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VCU Homecoming Concert Review

Richie Kamtchoum

Sun December 6, 2015 5:27 pm

Richmond, Va. The city has a long, storied history being the
capital of the Confederacy and housing the monumental Jackson Ward, to name a
few things. However, the artistic culture of RVA, has always been amongst the
biggest draws to the city. Up until now, the city has not had an outstanding
presence in the national music scene. Other than, D’Angelo, Nickelus F and
maybe a few others, prominent contemporary musicians from the city are few and
far between.  Perhaps that will be
changing soon, with the ever-growing potential and buzz surrounding urban hip-hop
culture in Richmond. With the recent tide and energy shift taking hold in
Richmond, artists and fans alike converged in one place to celebrate VCU’s
homecoming at Richmond Coliseum. The atmosphere outside the venue was raucous
and anxious as they waited to enter the coliseum and watch headliners Rae
Sremmurd and PartyNextDoor perform. Before the main show began, The Hip-Hop
Student Collective hosted a pre-show to keep the crowd entertained, highlighting
artists performing smaller sets including Jake Barkley, Ameera, Fly Anakin, and
Novalex.  All the artists were filled
with energy as they performed with the hope of being the next one on the main
homecoming stage. Novalex in particular delivered a strong half-ballad half-rap
performance. As the clock struck 6:00 P.M., the wait was over and the doors
were open. Fans literally ran inside to be as close to the front as possible as
they awaited the headliners performance. 

Before the headliners took stage, VCU’s homecoming committee handpicked several artists to provide energy and hype to the night. Bad Rabbits, a funk-rock band from Boston performed first. The band came through with quite the introduction as they performed a bevvy of songs from their catalogue of EP’s and LP’s. In particular, the up-tempo dance track, “Take it Off” provided a light-hearted mood to keep the audience engaged and having fun. After their set, up and coming Richmond hip-hop group LTCTDG and Yung Lan (acclaimed producer) kept the crowd amped as we awaited the headliners. Covering songs, getting fans to do a dance, or flat out raging, the audience participation was at a max as the crowd seemed to genuinely have fun, regardless of the performer. Following, their set, JMSN, a rising singer from Michigan provided a ton of fun to watch, literally. An eccentric artist, with the dance moves to back it up, JMSN grooved to his songs all set as he provided melodic R&B that you could dance too; a great balance that previewed Partynextdoor’s set. After his set, and another LTCTDG set to bridge the performances, the super duo from Mississippi were finally up. 

Energy doesn’t describe Rae Sremmurd. No, the proper word for their live show is youthful exuberance. The crowd was boisterous as the duo ran through a slew of their hits. From “Up Like Trump” to “Come Get Her”, to “No Flex Zone”, the crowd sang along to everything as Swae Lee provided the hooks and Slim Jimmy emphatically danced to the anthems. The SremmLife experience was probably the highlight of the night. Not to say the other performances did not deliver, but Rae Sremmurd is the perfect act to bring out the best in a college aged audience from a pure fun standpoint. As they closed with “No Type”, their biggest hit to date, audience activity was at its peak as we anxiously awaited PartyNextDoor. Before the Canadian mystery took stage, VCU crowned the junior homecoming prince and princess. Finally, the culminating act took center stage. The singer/rapper from up north has been fairly mysterious since blowing up back in 2013. Since being the first artist to sign to Drake’s OVO imprint, fans and critics have followed his trail very closely. To see him at VCU, brings his career arc to VCU’s massive hip-hop following full-circle. PND provided a mellow tone in comparison to Rae Sremmurd. He sang an abundance of fan favorites, bouncing fluidly between the likes of up-tempo jams “Welcome to the Party” and “Break from Toronto”, to slower cuts like “Wus good/Curious” and of course “Recognize”. The fans sang along as the buzzing singer serenaded his primarily female fans. As the night came to a close, and VCU’s homecoming concert ended, there was a sense that the hip-hop scene in Richmond was provided with validity or an imaginary stamp of approval. Not to slight or disregard the artists and fans beforehand, but the up and coming generation seems locked in to turning Richmond into a hip-hop staple. Hopefully in the near future, a homegrown act can headline the homecoming act. Artists like Novalex, LTCTDG, and even producer Yung Lan provide hope for the not so distant future. In the meantime, The-Re-Up will be here to document every step of the way.

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