Waka Flocka Flame at B.B. Kings, New York City

Waka Flocka Flame has made a career off of delivering a constant stream of epic and intense rap songs, which cause people to riot or drop it low depending on the venue. His live shows are well known as not just crowd-pleasers, but crowd destroyers. This proved 100% true for B.B. Kings in New York on Monday night.

The venue was almost totally empty for the first opener, but this didn’t stop Virginia rapper Evan Barlow from trying to get the small crowd into his performance. His fast paced, lyrical style worked well with his use of a live drum set, adding an interesting dynamic to even his most strip-clubby songs (of which there were many). He pulled off spitting over the beat of “Backstreet Freestyle”.

By the time Waka came on, the crowd had filled in slightly. He ran on the stage in a Rangers jersey, dreads swinging, and everyone immediately began jumping to the Lex Luger beats. Waka played hit after hit while everyone went insane. He amended some of his lyrics to keep it 100% in regards to his former partner, Gucci Mane. During “Hard in the Paint” he changed “Gucci that’s my motherfucking nigga” to “Gucci, fuck that nigga” just to make his stance totally clear. For more positive songs, like “Round of Applause” the whole crowd was singing – and clapping – along.

Waka reminded everyone that he’s more than a dreadlock swinging entertainer – he has bars too. He broke down some verses, acoustic style, with impressive clarity and speed. The crowd didn’t mind the lack of a beat, and kept the party going.

Waka jumped into the crowd for a significant portion of the show, starting with “Steve-O”, putting him right into the thick of the trap mosh-pit (trap pit?). The crowd literally mobbed Waka, who at 6ft3, was still visible to everyone in the small venue. He gave the mic to the crowd for a big part of “Throwing Money in the Air” while headbanging and jumping along

Waka knows how to play to a crowd – even a small one. He has more songs that can work either on a pole or in moshpit than any other rapper. Waka’s giant stage presence combines with his fan-focused energy to deliver a great performance. More hip hop shows would benefit from leaving the pretentious stand-on-the-wall-and-text attitude at the door to simply have fun. Waka gets this, and so do his fans – as evidenced by the non-stop trap pit of turnt at B.B. Kings last night.

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