With artists popping up all the time, it becomes difficult to find the true gems in the crowded hip-hop field. However, all three acts on last Saturday’s The Bobby Tarantino vs. Everybody tour bill have proved themselves to be worthy of attention.
Headliner Logic, who snagged two Grammy nominations at this year’s awards, brought his latest two records, the album Everybody and the mixtape Bobby Tarantino II, to the Moda Center, along with Christian rapper NF and 2017 XXL Freshman KYLE.
KYLE’s career has been rising slowly but steadily. Having opened for rappers such as G-Eazy and Hoodie Allen, KYLE’s recent XXL Freshman spotlight and hit single “iSpy” have launched him to the top of a more public platform. Since then, KYLE has been riding the wave, dropping his debut album, Light of Mine, in May.
Opening the show, the Ventura, Calif., rapper showed off his fun, upbeat and poppy style, bouncing around to grooves from the new album, as well as a few throwback tracks for fans of his older cuts. Though “iSpy” certaintly garnered a grand reaction from the crowd, and KYLE’s set was no doubt a lighthearted start to the night, his set didn’t seem to grab the attention of the crowd in quite the same way as the following two acts.
NF was the first switchup, and a striking change in style. Whereas KYLE’s sunny pop made for a pleasant beginning as patrons continued to find their seats in the arena, as soon as NF took the stage, the rapper’s presence grabbed the crowd's attention by the throat.
With a packed Moda Center at his command, NF proved he’s nowhere near stopping. With lights dimmed and a glowing, glitchy set production lighting up the dark arena, NF emerged from a large cage, lit by strobes, to a massive crowd reaction that almost matched the headliner himself.
For 45 minutes, NF treated the crowd to his powerful stage presence, never once slipping away from the audience’s attention, keeping the whole room locked on every word. Though NF has been labeled as a Christian rapper, his boundary-pushing take on the genre has found him mainstream radio success with songs like “Green Light.”
Yet another example of an impressive rise on the charts and a rapidly growing fanbase, Cali rapper Logic, a.k.a. Bobby Tarantino, has always excelled on the stage. Having previously sold out the Roseland Theater and packed KeyArena at 2016’s Bumbershoot in Seattle, Logic is no stranger to crowds.
Opening with a short introduction from TV’s Rick and Morty, Logic kicked off his near two-hour set with his latest mixtape cut, “44 More.” In the Rick and Morty intro, the two cartoon icons argue over which is better: Mixtape Logic or Album Logic. This is a large debate in the rapper’s fandom, as his mixtape persona and album persona differ in sound and style. And Logic gave the crowd a taste of both.
With songs like “Everybody,” Album Logic spoke up on issues such as racism and racial equality, highlighting the rapper's own identity as biracial. On the flip side, Mixtape Logic, or Bobby Tarantino, made his appearances on songs such as “Warm it Up,” a '90s boom bap-style cut from his latest mixtape, or “Overnight,” where he takes on a stereotypical persona, bragging how “all these bad bitches say they love me, I already know.”
One thing was clear though, no matter which side of himself the rapper let show, Logic proved his skills at the mic, delivering fast and fiery flows for the entirety of his set.
With years of experience under his belt, an arena tour didn’t throw Logic off his stride. He was as comfortable as ever in front of the packed house, taking moments between songs to have short conversations with fans in the first few rows, even getting the whole arena to sing happy birthday to one lucky member of the crowd.
In closing out his set, Album Logic made one last appearance, treating the crowd to his biggest hit to date, and the song that earned him his 2018 Grammy nominations that propelled him to his current status in the hip-hop field. Titled "1-800-273-8255," after the suicide hotline number, the chart-topping single is a perfect example of Logic’s message of peace, love and positivity, detailing the story of someone caught in a suicidal place, calling the hotline, and finding reason to go on.
It was at this point in the set that Logic was pulled aside by someone who appeared to be a crew member with the venue. He looked a bit concerned.
“They’re telling me I’ve gone over my time,” he told the crowd. “If I keep going over and stay on stage, they’re going to charge me $50,000 for the space.”
After a quick debate with the crew member and encouragement from the crowd, the rapper decided to take the deal and pay up, finishing out his set with two more cuts from Bobby Tarantino II.
Whether or not this fine was legitimate (Logic claimed a $30,000 fine from Seattle... a bit suspicious), or simply a clever lead to an encore (more likely), there’s no question that Logic would do whatever it takes to keep his fans entertained, $50,000 be damned.—Brendan Swogger