On the same night Donald Trump was being confirmed as the Republican nominee for president at the party’s convention in Cleveland, the billionaire businessman was being lyrically eviscerated by a very different type of party going down at PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte.
West Coast rapper YG, opening for breakout hip-hop stars Logic and G-Eazy, nearly brought the house down with his live performance of a controversial track he recorded this year with Nipsey Hussle titled “FDT” – with the DT standing for Donald Trump and the F standing for ... I mean, just take a guess.
“FDT” starts with the line, “I like white folks, but I don’t like you” and gets progressively more mean-spirited, building to this final threat: “Where your L.A. rally? We gon’ crash that s---.” The chorus is basically unprintable in a family newspaper, but we can say that as thousands of fans chanted along with it during Tuesday night’s concert, they waved a certain finger in the air like they just didn’t care.
And then to I guess drive the point home, late in his headlining set, G-Eazy invited YG back onstage to collaborate on a duet of the exact same song.
With more vigorous crowd support for the chorus, and more middle fingers than before.
It was both amusing and potent, but at the same time, a bit incongruous when juxtaposed with the message of “peace, love and positivity” that Logic tried so hard to convey during his 67-minute set (he followed Memphis rapper Yo Gotti, who was No. 2 in the four-man lineup).
The skinny, blue-eyed, biracial 26-year-old from the D.C. suburb of Gaithersburg seemed to do as much bantering with the crowd as he did rapping, explaining that although his biological African American father wasn’t around much, he was raised on the hip-hop of Nas, Tribe Called Quest, The Roots and others.
He spent five minutes picking fans out of the crowd, asking their names and ages (average: about 18) and awarding shoutouts. He spent another five minutes demonstrating how easy it is (for him) to program and sample tracks on a machine.
And he spent two performing “The Jam” without a cellphone in sight, after he said, “I double-triple-quadruple-double-down dare all you 21st-century Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, motherf------ to put your phone down ... and live in the god---- moment!”
Meanwhile, though G-Eazy possessed less insight and less depth when it came to audience engagement between songs, it certainly didn’t seem to bother the crowd, which – in the 26 minutes between the time Logic stepped off the stage and the time G stepped onto it – seemed to get about 200 percent rowdier.
The Oakland native’s style is more brash and his lyrics are more materialistic than Logic’s (see singles like “One of Them”); his delivery sometimes veers blatantly into Eminem territory (see “Far Alone”); and as a live performer he spends a lot of time jumping around like a lunatic.
But it works. The Auto-Tune he smoothly incorporated into “Order More,” it worked. Inviting Yo Gotti back to re-perform “Down in the DM” – which, like the Trump-bashing “FDT,” had already been performed once – it worked. And sneakily turning up the volume for an eardrum-shattering finale focused on his biggest hit, “Me, Myself & I”? It definitely worked.
I walked out, though, thinking not about G-Eazy’s closing number, but about something Logic had said a couple hours earlier:
“I’m blessed to have this (success), but that does not make me better than any of you motherf------, period. And I just hope that every single person in here understands that it’s not money, or notoriety, or any of these things that should make you respect someone any more or less than the next human being. You should treat your f------ garbage man like you treat the president of the United States.”
It’s that last sentence that sticks with me most, as I write this. Well, that and – ironically – the chorus of “FDT.”