It was a mild summer evening last week at The Foundry in Philadelphia where Boston rapper Michael Christmas headlined a show alongside native Philly rapper and budding hip-hop star, Tunji Ige (pronounced toon-gee ee-gay).
The show featured four artists on the ticket — the headliners, Michael Christmas and Tunji Ige, as well as Tobi Lou and Philly rapper Corey Lee.
Both Michael Christmas and Tunji Ige had new music to share and promote — Christmas’ “Baggy Eyes EP” released in May and Ige’s latest project, “Missed Calls,” has been making a buzz in the underground hip-hop scene.
Shortly after 8 p.m., the show began with opener Corey Lee taking the stage while a meager audience meandered about the intimate venue. Dim lights and blasting AC created a cool environment. Corey Lee worked the crowd by championing his Philly roots. He did a fairly good job working up the crowd for the headliners yet to come.
Tobi Lou was up next. Lou, a rapper from Chicago with an upbeat style, repeatedly encouraged the audience to remember his name by shouting “Who?” after he would call out “Tobi Lou!”
If Corey Lee was setting the stage, Tobi Lou was tearing it down. At one point, Tobi Lou hopped off stage and joined the audience, rapping face-to-face with audience members and corralling a small mosh pit. By this point, the fans were wound up and ready for the remaining two acts to take over the venue.
With probably around 100 or so concert-goers standing around, Michael Christmas nonchalantly took the stage and wasted no time going into his set. Christmas played a great deal of new music off of his aforementioned “Baggy Eyes EP,” as well as some from his previous release, “What a Weird Day.”
To some fans’ dismay, Christmas did not play his more well-known tracks off of his first project “Is This Art?” Nevertheless, Christmas incited a great deal of excitement in the audience and most likely turned many passive listeners into true fans.
Last to perform was Tunji Ige, and rightly so. The Philadelphia rapper has been working hard over the past year releasing projects via SoundCloud. Just recently, Ige has made waves in the hip-hop community with his album “Missed Calls,” amassing over two million streams at press time on his fan-favorite track, “On My Grind.”
The crowd revered their local rising star as he banged out track after track. His music is laced with 808s, wavy synths, Travis Scott-esque vocoder effects (i.e. auto-tune) and intense energy. The young crowd took to this style of music and lost their minds.
There was jumping, there was shouting and cheering. It all came to a head when Tunji brought up his own friends, who up to this point were off to the side of the stage, including Michael Christmas and Tobi Lou. A mosh pit had practically formed on stage as the music banged and the audience felt the music.
The cherry on top came when Tunji Ige approached the front of the stage and called out “Where is Asher Roth?” Out of the audience rose a long-haired person who instantly grabbed a mic and turned to face the audience. It was Asher Roth, the rapper most known for his 2009 hit single, “I Love College.”
Cheers erupted from the audience as Asher Roth tested the waters, asking how the crowd was feeling. One overwhelmingly positive response later and Asher Roth began rocking the crowd himself with a one-song set.
Just a few seconds into his performance, Asher Roth turned and jumped into the audience and began crowd-surfing — an amazing feat in itself considering that the audience had crowded into a small circle no wider than ten feet or so. Roth successfully surfed the crowd and was put back on stage where the entire group was dancing and vibing out to the trap-heavy music.
Security could not stop the few patrons who hopped the barricade and jumped on stage to join in the fun.
By 11 p.m., the show was over and the crowd was nothing short of pleased. Those who had come out to see their local rap star perform in his home city got to hear some great music and were treated with a surprise performance by Pennsylvania’s own Asher Roth. I guess that’s why they call it the “Bring Yo Friends Tour.”