YG at House of Blues, 4/17/2014
As ominous as the House of Blues stage looked on Thursday night, Compton, Calif., rapper YG looked right at home. His face didn't muster up much in the way of a toothy grin, reflecting a psyche hardened by years of gang-banging, but he effortlessly bounced and vibed off a strong crowd of faithful supporters, about half of whom were decked out in red as if they were getting their Rockets playoff decorum in early.
This was not my first YG experience. Since mid-March, the rapper has been in full-blown promotion mode for his new My Krazy Life album, performing at an abnormally high number of showcases and other events. Then, he didn't seem like a fully actualized performer, but Thursday he pulled out all his tricks.
There were friends in hoodies acting out the skit to his "Meet The Flockers," ten residential burglary commandments, ducking inside the makeshift set that represented YG's tagged-up house on the 400 block where DJ Mustard spun tracks inside of a windowsill and YG exiting the stage at times with a cloud of smoke behind him. There were cameos from Slim Thug and James Harden, a giant sign of respect from Houston, and a few other wrinkles. In a turnaround of about a month, YG looked far more like a polished and assured rap star on stage than at SXSW in Austin.
When he had his cues, he took them in stride, calling back to the Just Re'd Up 2011 mixtape that sort of started this newfound appreciation for the "Toot It And Boot It" rapper. "I'm Good," the plinking DJ Mustard-produced track, clanged off House of Blues's sound system and YG playfully bounced with it. Most of his energy, however, found itself reserved for everything on My Krazy Life -- from "BPT" to "Bompton," the crowd yelled, threw up imaginary (or legitimate) gang sets and for a moment fell right into the album.
"Why you callin' me by my government name, you the police?!", YG asked an overzealous fan early in the set, another asking for him to pass his red cup to him. Just glancing at some of the icy stares from people in the crowd, you would have thought House of Blues was a deleted scene from Colors.
By the time we arrived at "Sorry Momma," the poignant and real-life closer to the album, YG had effectively made himself at home in Houston, at least to this crowd. They weren't strictly here for "My Nigga," his ubiquitous radio smash, or "Toot It and Boot It." They wanted the album cuts, and on an album chock full of potential radio singles, we could have been standing all night having a singalong.
Just not a twerk-off. Apparently some women are way too excited to jump onstage these days to obtain a moment of fame absolutely zero people will remember.
Review continues on the next page.