With New York City experiencing uncommonly hot, July-like temperatures in September, hip hop fans at Manhattan’s Stage 48 nightclub didn’t even flinch at the first sight of snow. It was actually a welcomed arrival.
After patiently waiting through a three-hour delay to see Jeezy touch the stage, many in the crowd barely noticed the faux snow that fell from the ceiling upon his entrance. Jeezy was in New York to perform cuts from his new album, Seen It All: The Autobiography, released on Tuesday (Sept. 2). He entered to “1/4 Block,” the opening song on Seen It All, and paused to soak in the cheers.
The LP is one that the Atlanta rapper told the audience he “bust his a--” to make because he wanted to properly share his journey from hustling in Georgia’s traps to music stardom. The stated theme for the night was “we’ve seen it all,” because the 36-year-old star wanted to share the moment with his “day one” fans –– the people who supported his career since the release of his 2005 debut album, Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101.
On a night when the mission statement is one of self-reflection, the journey calls for a rehashing of the classics. The crowd got their first guest appearance of the night when Akon came out to sing the ever-infectious hook to “Soul Survivor.” The collabo performance sparked a run on more Thug Motivation 101 standouts like “Go Crazy,” “Bottom of the Map,” Trap Star” and “Trap or Die.”
The walk down memory lane made clear that while Jeezy fans have seen and heard his riveting tales of drug lore over and over again, the stories never get old.
As he said at the start of the show, the night wasn’t just about him, though. It was about what “we’ve seen” on the journey in life. It was about recognizing the “real motherf----s” you encounter along the way. In Jeezy’s case, New York has always been a place where he has been fully embraced. His connection to the city dates back to shooting the “Soul Survivor” music video in Brooklyn, garnering the support of Jay Z, Cam’ron and other N.Y. hip hop stars. One such Snowman supporter, Remy Ma, made her way to the stage to perform her 2004 anthem “Lean Back” and her verse on the DJ Khaled club banger “They Don’t Love You No More(Remix).” It was one of the first performances the femcee has done since her release from prison last month.
Jeezy didn’t stop there in showing New York love. The energy in the building went up a notch with the arrival of Bobby Shmurda and the GS9 crew. Shmurda’s “Hot N---a” was the unquestioned song of the summer around these parts, so the audience almost instantly began to do Shmurda’s signature Shmoney Dance in unison. The scene-stealing moment got a little awkward when it seemed like the young upstart rapper overstayed his welcome by performing an unsolicited encore of the record. Like a true vet, Jeezy took the youthful enthusiasm in stride before taking back control of the show.
From there the journey went back to ATL when he welcomed the final guest of the night, Future. The Snowman allowed his fellow ATLien to perform his own hit “Move That Doh” before they teamed up for the Seen It All introspective cut “No Tears.” Jeezy gave Future credit for giving him the inspiration to do the song during one of their recording sessions.
It’s with those deep contemplative moments that Jeezy has been able to remain authentic in the ever-changing landscape of hip hop, where the grit of substance doesn’t have to ring true for many.
As the crowd began to wane, those still in attendance called on The Snowman to perform the title track from his new album. Truly at this point of the show, we had pretty much seen it all, so it was the only thing left for him to do. The spellbinding flutes on the booming track came through and the audience reached maximum satisfaction. Even Jeezy was caught in the moment, letting Jay Z’s verse on the song play out as he looked out into the frenzied crowd. He likely saw a familiar sight — the payoff for his hard work.
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(Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams/Getty Images)