Turn it up
September 5, 2011
The College of William and Mary: Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot. This weekend, Big Sean came to the College to perform the first concert of the semester sponsored by Alma Mater Productions, and despite all his efforts to get the crowed hyped the audience was little more than a dull mob.
The opening act, Nickelus F., an upcoming rapper from Richmond, attempted to raise the energy but both his set and his rap fell flat. While he was able to convince a few of the students close to the stage to bob their heads to the beat and wave their hands, most of the crowd complained about his lack of talent.
I polled the audience on thumbs up or down approval of Nick F.’s performance and the response was overwhelmingly negative. His lyrics were mediocre at best; rapping about weed, alcohol and sex isn’t anything I wouldn’t have anticipated from a hip-hop artist, but he could have approached the content in a more interesting way. His DJ played some nice beats, and I would have rather heard the instrumentals than the verses Nick F. spat.
When Sean finally came on I expected the crowd to erupt with excitement, run down from the steps of the amphitheatre, and rush the stage. I was shocked by the lack of the enthusiasm when I saw that people were not even budging from their seats and few were leaving the venue. Granted, Big Sean is not the biggest name in hip-hop at the moment and most of the people who I spoke with before and during the concert had no idea who he was, but I could never have imagined the lack of appreciation for such a popular contemporary artist.
I first heard of Big Sean in 2010 when Kanye West released G.O.O.D. Fridays, free songs available to download from his website every Friday as a countdown to the release of his fourth studio album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Moreover, Sean is a member of West’s label G.O.O.D. Music, along with several other up and coming and already famous artists such as Common, Pusha T, John Legend and Kid Cudi. Sean was frequently featured in West’s weekly giveaways and his verses were always clever and witty.
When Big Sean finally released his first studio album “Finally Famous,” I was eager to see the evolution of his rhymes and progression under the mentorship of the Roc-Nation camp, which includes Kanye West, Jay-Z and Young-Joc, amongst others.
Although Big Sean has gained mainstream exposure only recently, he has a slew of mix-tapes from the years prior to his deal with G.O.O.D. Music, some of which he performed at Friday’s concert. He had his start on the west side of Detroit, and has proven that Midwestern rappers have the same amount of edge and integrity as rappers from New York, L.A. or the south. Even with his fame on a steady rise and a history that illustrates his passion for his craft, the majority of campus was unaware of his existence. AMP finally secured someone worth listening to; if anyone remembers the Eric Hutchinson concert from last fall, then you should recognize this as an extraordinary improvement. All I can do is groan and sigh heavily at this underappreciation for a decent artist.
Among the boring casual concertgoers were some fans that reciprocated the energy that Big Sean gave to the audience. They posed with him for his “Twitterpics” and crowdsurfed. The performance seemed a bit short, but Sean played a number of songs from both his mixtapes and his album. The song that got the crowd moving the most was a song from his CD called “Dance (Ass).” He should have started the show with that single, because it made the concert feel like a party and even the people who were just rocking to the music began to work to the beat. The couples on the floor really began to dance once he played his other dancefloor banger “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay,” which features Kanye West and Roscoe Dash in the album version. He closed the concert with his most famous song “My Last,” which features Chris Brown in the chorus. By then most of the crowd was dancing and singing along, but the energy was too little, too late and the concert ended as the audience filtered out to the DJ’s final jams. After two hip-hop concerts, The Roots and Big Sean, it will be interesting to see who AMP finds to play at the homecoming show; I only hope the campus is more receptive to whomever it may be.