Lil Baby’s NYC Stop Showed How to Put on a Good Rap Show – Okayplayer

Recently, tours from artists like Moneybagg Yo, Lil Durk and, most notably, Lil Baby, have had anywhere from a couple to a handful of dates canceled from their tour schedules, with rappers (and artists across genres) having to navigate the harsh realities of touring following a worldwide pandemic that’s still ongoing.

Although Lil Baby in particular has been one of the main rappers in headlines over canceled concert dates (he axed 10 shows before proceeding to add three more for his It’s Only Us tour), his Wednesday night show at Madison Square Garden fortunately was still on, bringing out countless fans ready to see him and openers like GloRilla perform.

With a concert like what Lil Baby and his team put together Wednesday night, there were four things that stood out that resulted in it being a well-executed and successful rap show. From having a notable creative direction team assisting in bringing the show to life to guest appearances that had fans in a frenzy, this is how Lil Baby pulled off a good rap show.

Hiring a creative direction team

With the help of Los Angeles-based creative agency Human Person and Teyana Taylor (who served as choreographer), the creative direction of Lil Baby’s set elevated what we’ve normally seen from the often quiet and unassuming rapper. Having worked with SZA on her S.O.S. tour and Metro Boomin’ at this year’s Coachella, Human Person’s design for Baby’s concert consisted of two stages: one with two ends reaching out to the crowd, and another in the middle of MSG that raised and lowered for Baby to interact with his fans. With the main stage split in half, the show began with Baby on the second tier while dancers filled the first main tier. The inclusion of dancers, interactive interludes that included clips from his Amazon Prime documentary, and an expensive set design paid off. The details of storytelling and production gave the show a unique flair that often isn’t seen in current rap stars’ shows.

Allowing your peers to join the tour

The Wednesday night concert for this Lil Baby tour stop was a bit of a lengthy show if you actually showed up when doors opened. However, Baby and the Quality Control team used this time to allow his labelmates and musical peers a chance to participate in the show. Hunxho opened the show followed by Quality Control signee Gloss Up, whose lively performance was the perfect transition to Rylo Rodriguez, who’s signed to Lil Baby’s Glass Window label. GloRilla’s set was dominated by the appearance of rising rapper Scar Lip, who held a special energy that showed why she’s become a notable up-and-coming female rapper. With the addition of Funkmaster Flex as the DJ between sets, Lil Baby’s tour was more than just an opportunity to showcase his superstar appeal. It also put the spotlight on a new crop of rappers who could potentially follow in Baby’s artistic path.

Special guest appearances

Throughout the night, Lil Baby continuously expressed his gratitude for performing at Madison Square Garden. As with most artists who perform at the venue, Baby’s set was perfectly decorated with surprise guests: Meek Mill, A Boogie, and Lil Durk. For the full house of dedicated rap fans who finished Baby’s lyrics for him in harmony, these guest appearances only added to the fun. Meek Mill’s performance of “Dreams and Nightmares” energized the crowd, and A Boogie and Durk’s appearances were also well-received too, with the latter performing his popular “Hellcats and Trackhawks” song from 2021.

Cohesive setlist

It’s been six years since Lil Baby emerged into our rap consciousness with Harder Than Hard. Hits like “My Dawg,” “Yes Indeed,” “Drip Too Hard,” and “California Breeze” have become synonymous with his rise as the voice of Atlanta, and his setlist was indicative of that. From fan favorites like “Baby” and album cuts like “Real Spill,” to notable singles like “We Paid” and the Drake-featuring “Girls Want Girls,” Baby’s setlist accommodated everyone who was in attendance. New fans, day one supporters, mainstream fans, and even parents there with their children had an enjoyable time taking in the show’s seamless setlist.

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