ATLANTA — On Saturday, there was definitely a little tension in the air, mixed with excitement and anticipation for the city's annual super show, radio station Hot 107.9's Birthday Bash at the Philips Arena. For a decade and a half the station has brought together the best of the best in hip-hop and R&B for one gigantic shindig.
This year, the city was anticipating two of their hometown bigwigs, Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy. The two rocked the concert last year and, for Gucc, it was almost like a coming-out party — the fans sang along to all his mixtape hits and Mane reestablished himself as being very hot in the streets. Jeezy was actually elevating to the next level of his career — already huge in the 'hood, the Snowman gave the mainstream a wake-up call, bringing out his Grammy Award-winning peers Usher and Kanye West to join him onstage. Young stole the show and was rewarded with the headlining spot at this year's Bash.
Recently, problems that Young and Gucci have had with each other in the past have been brought back to the forefront with the release of Mane's The Writing's on the Wall mixtape and Jeezy's retaliation song, "24-23 (Kobe, LeBron)." So would these two bring the beef to the Bash?
No dis records — just good music, as both Gucci and Jeezy showed up with big sets. Jeezy did it again, with undoubtedly the biggest surprise and most talked about money moment of the night — bringing out Lil Wayne. The two, who are going out on tour this summer as part of the America's Most Wanted Music Festival, shook hands center stage. Wayne hit the crowd with a nice set-up jab, his verse and chorus to Birdman's "Always Strapped," then ended his mini-set and the show with one of rap's summer anthems, "Every Girl."
Shortly before bringing out Wayne, Jeezy introduced Mary J. Blige to the audience. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul didn't perform, but expressed adulation for the Snowman as she told the crowd that he was "Mr. Birthday Bash." Young started his set with hits such as "Who Dat," "Bottom of the Map," and the always reliable crowd pleaser, "Bi--- Get Your Mind Right."
A couple of hours before Jeezy, the duo calling themselves the Birthday Bash Boys had major shine onstage. OJ Da Juiceman warmed the audience with records such as "Washing Powder Money." When the music for "Make the Trap Say Aye," began, the crowd started to stir a bit more — they know who the guest star on the track is: Gucci!
As the song stopped on Gucci's part, the Mane himself came out — the fans knew the songs line for line and cheered Gucc on. "Ridiculous," "Freaky Girl" and "Wasted" took the energy up a bit higher, until ultimately Gucc and OJ left.
Not to be outdone, Plies was a one-man event during his set. The Florida MC went back and forth between raunchy songs for the ladies and cement-hard records for the fellas. "Plenty Money" popped off big time, as he held two huge stacks of ones in his hand, which he said totaled $50,000 — he then made it rain on the crowd.
The Grand Hustle family were early show-stealers, as Young Dro captained a fast-paced, well-received performance that included Yung L.A., guest Maino, and new Grand Hustle family members the Rich Kids.
The bill for Birthday Bash was loaded. The show started at 6:00 p.m. and didn't slow down until after Jeezy's set, just shy of 1:00 a.m. Other acts on the roster included Rick Ross, Fabolous, the G.S. Boyz, Trey Songz, Jeremih, Twista, Keri Hilson, Pleasure P and F.L.Y. (who provided another major moment by bringing out hometown legend Pastor Troy), Soulja Boy Tell'em (who performed with former foe and now current ally, Bow Wow), and more. Big Boi and Andre of Outkast were in the crowd, but did not perform. Maybe next year?