March 7, 2018
Within rap and hip-hop, it’s easy to get lost in the vast expanse of artists, collectives, and trends, especially as the industry becomes more accessible to independent musicians and producers. Faced with such a catalog, listeners tend to lean into what’s popular, leaving some of the best talent hiding just beneath the surface. Out of these diamonds in the rough, some of the brightest are Denzel Curry and A$AP Ferg. Both of these artists have more to offer than they’ve been credited for. Whether it be Ferg’s true capacity hidden within the colossus of A$AP Mob or Curry’s enormous ability reduced to one song by lukewarm fans, these are two artists who’ve been grossly underrepresented by their respective mainstream successes. Last night, they showed Charlotte exactly what their real skills look like.
The crowd at The Fillmore packed in, slowly but surely concentrating in the center of the venue as those in the back corralled everyone toward the stage. IDK. kicked things off with a powerful DJ set, igniting the feverish group of fans as excitement began to mount. Before long, the Florida wild man himself, Denzel Curry exploded onto the stage, working in tandem with his tour DJ to build chaos in the crowd. Curry showcased his personal brand of passion, letting loose a barrage of unrelenting verses and hooks on the frenzied audience. To close out with a true bang, Curry finished up with his hit song “Ultimate” and set fire to the room as fans began to crowd surf and pile on top of one another, lost in the discord that had overtaken the entire venue.
For all of the zeal triggered by Curry, the anticipation for Ferg’s set was still growing. The energy of the fans created a palpable tension that expanded from wall to wall before bursting into a deafening uproar as the famed Harlem-native took the stage. Ferg rolled through the hits from his latest record, Still Striving, before moving into older material like the hit song “Shabba” and “Hella Hoes” from the A$AP Mob mixtape, and “WDYW,” his collaborative track with Carnage and Lil Uzi Vert. The stamina of the crowd never failed and, as the set’s closer “Plain Jane” rang through the room, the energy swelled to a final crescendo, erupting into a hysteria of voices as Denzel Curry and IDK. joined Ferg on stage to wrap up the night.
Aside from his strong presence and his obvious rhyming prowess, the real marvel of an A$AP Ferg set is found in his artistry. He performed alone on stage, supported only by two light columns and a backdrop that featured a dazzling variety of visuals, ranging from snippets of the A$AP Mob documentary to unique art that resembled an aesthetic similar to Bladerunner or even Resident Evil concept art. This visual support brings an entirely new dynamic to a Ferg performance, engaging the audience’s complete range of senses in a manner unlike any of his peers currently in the genre. It’s that attention to detail that has propelled Ferg into the upper echelon of the rap world – a talent that is seemingly unrecognized or unappreciated by his mainstream fanbase.
Between Ferg’s captivating live performance and Denzel Curry’s explosive passion on stage, both rappers showed Charlotte, this was not a show to be missed. Anybody that was in attendance should have a new perspective of rap and hip-hop, and with any luck, more fans will catch up sooner rather than later.