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Review: Lil Boosie returns to the stage, drops hits at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa

21

June

A mass of people poured onto the stage as an announcer primed the crowd. “Y’all ready for Boosie Badass?” the booming voice screamed. The area around the DJ booth filled with folks holding cell phones recording the crowd and the moment, until at last, Lil Boosie emerged in a brilliant green T-shirt and camouflage shorts to seize the front of the stage.

“Where all my real Boosie fans at?” the recently released 31-year-old rapper from Baton Rouge quizzed the audience of more than 3,400 Friday night.

Even in the less-than-one-quarter-filled Tampa Bay Times Forum, the roar resonated.

The Touch Down 2 Cause Hell Tour, Lil Boosie’s first official outing since his March release from prison, raised eyebrows when promoters announced the Tampa date for the huge arena, but the rapper’s cult-like following was there with him for every recitation.

“I love the hell out of Florida,” Boosie, whose real name is Torrence Hatch, shouted between performances in his 20-song setlist, which kicked off with Smoking on Purple, a thump-clap, Louisiana-bounce hit that features Webbie.

Lots of songs were left only half perfomed, faded out early because a featured rapper wasn’t present or just cut off to keep the show flowing. Though Boosie’s contingent was large, on stage, only Boosie had a microphone.

The show slowed a bit four songs in when the rapper started to wax philosophical about the drug charges that cost him five years of his freedom. “When I was in jail this was my favorite song because so many people did this to me,” he said before launching into Betrayed.

Three songs after that, the energy was back up for his new single, Touch Down 2 Cause Hell. The appropriate taste was achieved but still the star of the night seemed a bit less seasoned than his opening acts, Yo Gotti and August Alsina, who gave sincere and engaging performances to mixed reactions.

Alsina, whose debut album, Testimony, was released in April, had to rely on fan knowledge of mixtape work to draw them in. A drummer and keyboardist accompanied his DJ to give the performance a fuller sound and also remind everyone he isn’t a rapper. His voice sounded strained at times, but his ability to roll a missed note into a silky vibrato smoothed the rough edges of his R&B bad-boy swag. Half the crowd hadn’t arrived for his set and many weren’t fully into it, but Alsina pushed on giving effort to make fans were there weren’t many before.

Yo Gotti had a strong following because of his many club appearances in Tampa over the years, and the crowd was with him bar for bar on most of his hits. He started his performance with an edited clip reel of news coverage of his legal troubles spliced with interviews and tour footage, the first and only arena tour-level element of the entire show.

He crashed onto the stage with his catchy Meek Mill-featuring track, F.U., and started things off right. Two hype men in Cocaine Muzik Group gear held microphones, but never got annoying or shouty. After his set closed, Yo Gotti stood on the edge of the stage and shook hands and signed autographs appreciatively for all the fans who came to see him.

Each of the performers seemed happy to be in the building and free to do what they love.

“I got a new album coming out this year called The Art of Hustle,” Yo Gotti told the crowd as he exited. “I’m trying show y’all how to make this money because e if everybody had money wouldn’t nobody be in jail.”

A hopeful idea.

-- Robbyn Mitchell, tbt*

[Last modified: Saturday, June 21, 2014 10:05am]

    

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