NEW YORK — Once again with the help of XXL magazine, the youngsters had an opportunity to show who’s in charge right now.
CyHi Da Prynce, Big K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf led the way on Tuesday night at B.B. King Blues Club, as the trio of Southern upstarts delivered during the hip-hop mag’s second annual “Freshmen Live” concert.
The three rappers were joined at the show by seven of the eight other young artists who also appear on the cover of XXL’s April issue — Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar, Diggy Simmons, Meek Mill, Fred the Godson, Lil Twist and YG (Bay Area rapper Lil B was the only honoree who was unable to perform as he had a previous commitment).
Bronx MC Fred the Godson and Philadelphia rhyme spitter Meek Mill impressed early on, with the former bringing out Vado as a guest for his set. Simmons also shared the stage — his father, legendary Run-DMC frontman Rev Run, came out to raucous applause.
Lil Twist and YG also gave solid performances.
Wiz Khalifa protégé Miller brought up someone onstage, as well, but it wasn’t a musical guest. The Pittsburgh rapper, who seemed to have a number of doppelgangers present, invited a teen “Mini-Me” of sorts to join him, joking — with not much subtlety — that he’d help the youth with the ladies.
Compton star Lamar shouted out late hip-hop singer Nate Dogg and, with an impassioned set, impressed the largely New York crowd. His staple “Look Out for Detox” and selections from his standout mixtape, Overly Dedicated, won the breezy lyricist new fans.
“Every time I’m in my city I be hacking like my sh– don’t stink/ Used to clean my rolling chain with alcohol in the sink,” KL spit during the rousing “Michael Jordan.” “Riding ’round with n—as that I grew up with since McNair/ Bumping ’Me Against the World,’ ’Hello world, Kendrick here.’ ”
CyHi Da Prynce had star power on his side, as Big Sean, Pusha-T and Kanye West DJ A-Trak helped the Georgia rapper command the capacity crowd’s attention. CyHi’s performance was equal parts humorous (“So Appalled”) and aggressive (“Looking for Trouble”). His hater anthem, “Sideways,” boomed through the venue’s speakers and ignited the audience.
“Them haters looking at me sideways, sideways,” he rapped in his raspy voice.
Yelawolf and Big K.R.I.T. closed out the show.
’Wolf ran through an energetic set featuring “Pop The Trunk” and “I Wish.”
K.R.I.T. pleased the attendees with a lively set featuring material from his standout 2010 mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. After having been booed by NYC fans last year during a concert, the Mississippi native regained his footing like Michael Vick on a broken play and proved his mettle with an exceptional set. He summarized it best for himself between songs, when he bantered with the crowd.
“I just wanna be your country cousin,” said the rapper, whose new mixtape Return of 4eva is scheduled to be released on Monday. “I know most, if not all of y’all, got some family from Mississippi.”
Which of XXL magazine’s 2011 “Freshmen” would you like to see in concert? Tell us in the comments.