Best Buy Theater, New York, NY
March 7, 2013
Concert Review: T.I. at the Best Buy Theater (3-7-13)
The MetroPCS ‘5 Boro Tour’ descended upon the Best Buy Theater in Times Square Thursday night, celebrating the return of Atlanta’s T.I. to New York City for the second time since December. With support from the likes of Cipha Sounds, New Jersey’s Joe Budden, and interstitial beats being dropped by Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex, the evening would be a raucous and unpredictable combination of some of hip hop’s finest artists from the north and south, culminated by a performance from one of the game’s best. And if you listen to the words of the man himself, he’s “The King, bitch!
The Theater was thoroughly packed on this night, with potential attendees being turned away at the door. The sold out crowd inside meanwhile was amped up from the start, with the stench of marijuana smoke wafting up toward the main escalators at the Theater’s front door which became obvious as soon as you made your way inside. But such is a hip hop show, and the festivities inside would be just as you’d expect- oversized men dancing with their girls gyrating in front of them, drinks held high in the air as concertgoers sand along to the Flex’s beats aloud, and innumerable screams of “Where New York at?” and “New York City, make some Nooooiiiiiiseeee,” that seemed to carry on throughout the show.
Despite a start time of 10pm, roughly twelve minutes early, there was T.I. introduced out to the loudly cheering crowd, desperate for his glance and a short stint of the rapper’s attention. Although he’s short in stature, T.I.’s voice with a twang of urban southern drawl is enrapturing. Donning the stage in a light gray denim jacket with a flat brimmed Chicago Bulls hat and sunglasses shrouding his face, the artist momentarily basked in the crowd’s adulation before launching into set opener “Top Back” from 2006 album “King,” spitting verse after verse into the wireless mic gripped by his left hand, underneath an eye-popping gold watch. While it was rumored that T.I.’s set would last just 45 minutes, his early appearance onstage ensured a full hour of material that left no stone unturned from his reflectively lengthy catalog.
With tracks dating back to 2003’s “Trap Muzik,” T.I. energetically bounced around the stage from song to song, with unparalleled energy and pronounced swagger. What’s truly fascinating about hip hop shows is the attention span or lack thereof from an audience so used to DJ’s switching up different tracks after just a few short seconds. And as such, artists seem to understand this notion and sample just a brief portion of their own music, causing the crowd to vigorously ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ briefly before settling back down. T.I. performed his own verses from songs like B.O.B.’s “Still in This Bitch,” Kanye West & Jay-Z’s “N****s in Paris,” and Trinidad James’ “All Gold,” before mixing in some bars from “Swing Ya Rag” (2008’s ‘Paper Trail’) and full versions of hits “Whatever You Like” and “Bring Em Out,” perhaps the song which launched the artist into the mainstream of pop culture. T.I. also managed to channel some tracks from December’s release “Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head” like “G-Season,” Go Get It” and a pulverizing, set closer “Ball,” which riled what had been a hot and cold crowd all night long, back into a flurry of liveliness before sending them on their way back out into a brisk, blustery New York City night.
- Jane Van Arsdale