NEW YORK — The word "live" was used several times by Power 105's DJ Suss One on Tuesday night inside New York City's PlayStation Theater. And while the term most certainly described the night’s bill, XXL’s annual Freshman Class concert, it also happened to be the best possible way to describe the energy inside the packed venue, thanks to the all-star lineup of Lil Yachty, Denzel Curry, Dave East, Lil Dicky, Desiigner and G Herbo.
With the exception of four fellow classmates from the 2016 roster (Anderson .Paak, Kodak Black, 21 Savage and Lil Uzi Vert) this year’s band of burgeoning stars did everything from putting on a helluva show for the Big Apple to proving their worth as the year’s must-see rookies in charge. As they each stopped by the Pelle Pelle suite, these new leaders expressed their thoughts on making the cover and headlining their very own show in the big city. So how exactly great were they? Well, check out our report card on each of the performing acts below, along with each of their thoughts on making the cover.
Thoughts on being a Freshman: "It is exquisitely gangsta. It's been a long time coming, a good few years, but I made it here and I'm fortunate."
305 landed in the 212. Before kicking into his set, the Florida native gave a shoutout to his fellow Sunshine State native and Freshman, Kodak Black, who is currently locked up after a May arrest. This would be one of many tributes to the incarcerated rapper throughout the night. Soon after the shout, Curry launched into a fiery set that featured crowd favorites like "This Life," "Knotty Head," "Flying Nimbus."
Crowd Surfs: 1
Loudest Pop: "ULTIMATE"
Thoughts on being a Freshman: "It's dope, it's been a long time coming, but I've worked to get here tonight so it feels good to be recognized. We started in the projects so to be able to travel the world and be on the cover of magazines I've been reading since I was in ninth grade is amazing."
New York's very own Dave East turned the PlayStation Theater into the infamous grimey '90s hotspot The Tunnel, thanks to a set that laced hard raps over cold beats. Stepping to stage in Off-White gear and a bottle of Hennessy, he kicked things off with the fiery "KD," before jumping into remixed cuts like "Cut It," as part of his Eastmix series. East, who is prepping the release of his new mixtape Kiari Chanel, delivered a party pack of bangers that ranged from cuts like "No Coachella For Me" as well as highlights from last year's Hate Me Now mixtape ("Forbes List"). One of the highlights during his set occurred when he performed "Numb," an emotional standout on the aforementioned project, which saw just about everyone from the crowd clinging to every word. Turning up is one thing, but making a connection is another. East managed to pull off the latter, which, judging by the crowd of turnt-up teeny boppers, is a rare feat.
Loudest Pop: "KD"
Thoughts on being a Freshman: "It feels good just to be here and progress from here. Shit like this make you want to strive to be better. These types of situations or any goal or anything I accomplish, I really try to use this as fuel to the fire to become better. I've been at it for a minute so for me to do this, is a give and go."
Stepping to the stage to nearly deafening "Herbo" chants, the artist formerly known as Lil Herb, G Herbo hit the stage to a roaring applause and backed it up with a roaring set. Flipping between bangers from "Kill Shit" to "Back On Tour" and "Just Bars," the Chicago MC shined bright.
Crowd Surfs: 2
Loudest Pop: "Kill Shit"
Two months ago, Lil Yachty appeared on this very stage and shut sh-t down as part of Young Thug's Hy!£UN35! tour. That said, this writer experienced déjà vu last night, as Yachty worked the stage like he was the headliner. The live reception proved this even clearer, as everyone flocked around the front of the stage to catch Lil Boat show out to tunes like "Ice Water," "Water On My Face" and "Broccoli." To say that Yachty stole the show would be to say the obvious. He was responsible for the night's biggest mosh pit, which stretched from both sides of the stage floor and left no one standing still within the two level event space. If that wasn't enough, how else do you explain him performing "Minnesota" not once, not twice, but three times! Lil Yachty tour coming soon?
Loudest Pop: "Minnesota"
Thoughts on being a Freshman: "It feels great. You never know when you're trying something different and how people are going to feel about it. But people like it and I feel justified in my approach."
Is Lil Dicky a professional rapper? He certainly treated that question like fuel to the fire upon hitting the stage. The Freshman rapper turned up the crowd to records from his Professional Rapper LP, including "$ave That Money," "White Crime" and, you guessed it, "Professional Rapper." At one point, the rapper even performed a striptease... er... lap dance, on a random female fan from the audience while rapping along to "Lemme Freak." Yeah.
Loudest Pop: "$ave That Money"
As headliner of the evening, Desiigner brought along the spastic moves, Grawwww ad-libs, and bangers from New English, his latest mixtape. He danced, he dove into the crowd, and he performed a slew of the new records from his new project. Although much of those new records failed to grab the crowd like Yachty did during his set, "Panda" certainly did the trick.
Crowd Surfs: 6
Loudest Pop: "Timmy Turner/ Panda"
Additional Reporting: Erin Simon