Swag surfin’ is always a good idea, and last Saturday night [March 25, 2017], as Atlanta’s V-103 radio station went live with a not-so pop-up concert featuring a host of Hip-Hop’s biggest names, it was the only appropriate way to kick off an electrifying evening in the genre’s Southern command post.
Some months after V-103, ubiquitously referred to as “the People’s Station”, hosted its second Winterfest at the end of 2016 with the likes of Lil Wayne, 2Chainz, Young Thug and The Dream serving as headliners, it returned to Philips Arena to treat fans to an advertised lineup composed of Plies, Meek Mill, Big Boi, Rick Ross, and T.I.
Peppered throughout the night were bonus guests credited with making a musical impact in the city and beyond.
This meant special visits from budding crooner Jacquees and rapper OJ da Juiceman, before the ever-so-fascinating Plies took to the stage, strolling through the crowd midway through his performance as he glided through a set that included tracks “Racks Up to My Ear” and “Ran Off on Da Plug Twice (Ritz Carlton)”.
No sooner had Plies made his exit than Atlanta’s Unk hopped on the stage to “Walk It Out”, treating fans to an unexpected time hop to ’06 when the song was at its height.
Once his brief appearance ended, it took a while for the crowd to catch on as an all-too-familiar “Stilettos (Pumps)” chant broke through a brief silence as Crime Mob reunited to lengthen a much-needed travel back in time, as the crowd exploded in a sing-along to “Rock Yo Hips” and “Knuck If You Buck”.
The segment culminated with Rich Homie Quan emerging to wrap up with “Walk Through”, “Flex (Ooh Ooh), and preview some new music for his hometown just moments before one of his cited influences would appear onstage.
Fitted in an all-white coordinate, Big Boi took to the mic next, flying through his cuts of Outkast’s “B.O.B.” and “Ms. Jackson” before bringing on Killer Mike for an assist on “The Whole World” and “The Way You move” with fellow Dungeon Family member Sleepy Brown in attendance.
Next, it would be Meek Mill’s turn to charm the masses, turning to familiar tracks like “House Party” and the quintessential “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)” while taking the occasional pause to remind the crowd that he is single and “looking for all the pretty ladies”.
It wouldn’t be long before V-103 revealed yet another trick up their sleeve as the station’s Big Tigger took to the stage to announce the next surprise: super-producer and new father DJ Khaled.
With a personality too large for words, Khaled was met warmly as the arena sang along to the hooks of some of the producer’s most recognizable tracks including, “All I Do Is Win”, “I Got the Keys”, “I’m on One” all as he appropriately directed the DJ’s transitions with the catchphrase “another one” the whole way through.
Fittingly enough, Khaled’s final task would be to bring out his brother-in-arms and MMG boss Rick Ross, transitioning into tracks like “Blowin’ Money Fast (BMF)” and highlights from his recently released Rather You Than Me, including “Summer Seventeen” and the reviving “Trap, Trap, Trap”.
It wouldn’t be long before Meek Mill returned to turn up alongside Khaled and Ross in a reassuring moment that saw all three men, whose personal can of worms were among topics artfully uncovered in Ross’ RYTM project, genuinely enjoying prosperity at the tail of rough patches.
This theme carried on as the King of The South himself took the stage in a final bid that would close out the show.
In the night’s final 30 minutes or so, T.I would manage to put the sound guy in check, crack a couple jokes, bring proper acknowledgement to his faction of protégés, and remind everyone in the building of his influential catalogue, and he’d do it with ease.
His first guest of the night was B.o.B as the pair introduced their latest “4 Lit” single, featuring the absent Ty Dolla $ign. Next, Hustle Gang collaborators London Jae and Yung Booke would take to the stage in a brief, yet opportune performance of their latest “H.I.T.V. (Hoses in The Valley)” before a nearly sold-out Philips Arena.
It would be a few minutes later that TIP commands all of Hustle Gang, grouped together a few feet back onstage, to step into the spotlight for an animated moment reciting Young Dro’s “We In Da City” before inviting Young Thug to share the stage, topping off the night’s thrilling final moments.