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Monday, March 12, 2012

Tyga @ The Eagles Ballroom

March 10, 2012

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Until recently, Young Money's most successful rappers have been outsized personalities, ceaseless showmen who flood every verse with their eccentricities and individualism. The camp's latest star, by comparison, is something of a non-presence. Breaking from label mates Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj, Tyga represents a much blander strain of contemporary pop-rap. He's safely positioned himself somewhere between J. Cole's aspiring everyman and Big Sean's party-starting horndog, and like those two low-calorie rappers, he's more interested in riding waves than starting them.

There's a method to Tyga's ordinariness, though. The 22-year-old understands that sometimes personality can be a liability. His breakout hit "Rack City," for instance, lives and dies by its curt bass line, a hypnotic lurch that he complements with a groggy, five-drinks-in slur. It's a track that demands an uncomplicated rapper. Nicki Minaj's dissociative-disorder fits would only distract from that perfect bass; Drake carries with him an undercurrent of sadness that might undermine the song's unapologetic hedonism. Tyga, though, makes no effort to upstage the beat—or, for that matter, any real effort at all. He lets the bass do the work for him.

With "Rack City" blitzing both the urban and the Hot 100 charts, Tyga sold out his Eagles Ballroom concert Saturday. Though the ascendant rapper is now playing for bigger crowds than anybody could have expected just two months ago, he has adapted quickly to his new headliner status, and he ably filled the stage during his one-hour set. It certainly helped that he had a small well of hits to draw from, albeit hits on which he played only an incidental role. In between club-minded cuts from last year's #BitchImTheShit mixtape and his overstuffed new album, Careless World: Rise of the Last King, he delivered his non-essential verses from Young Money's "Roger That" and "Bedrock," Chris Brown's "Deuces" and the remix of Drake's "The Motto." He played "Rack City," the first hit he can truly claim as his own, twice, and each time the song seemed to perform itself. Between the eager crowd and the cavernous acoustics of the Eagles Ballroom, which only magnified the track's already massive bass, Tyga's verses were drowned out. Nobody seemed to mind.


Photo by Adam Miszewski