There are many up-and-coming rappers out there, at all rungs on the ladder of public consciousness and this past week Portland was blessed by several fast-climbing rap artists, each hovering on the precipice of cultural ubiquity. We'll have photos from Action Bronson's Saturday show later today, but on Wednesday night, co-headliners Young Thug and Travis Scott touched down at the Roseland for the grand finale of their Rodeo tour.
As was mentioned early in their performances, neither Young Thug or Travis Scott have released an official album—which made the end-to-end sell out of their tour a testament to the power of mixtapes, singles, and guest features in the modern era of music consumption. That being said, while Travis Scott has had some very powerful co-signs and generates significant social currency in the blogosphere, it is Young Thug who currently possesses all of the crossover radio hits between the two of them.
Taking turns on stage with short three-to-four song bursts, and frequently assisting each other, Thugga and La Flame fed off the capacity (yet curiously under-filled) crowd as well as each other to deliver a high-octane performance supported by the bombast of Las Vegas-esque neon signage, LED walls, and Roseland's much improved sound system.
Although both are known for their fashion sensibility, Travis Scott kept to a simple BAPE sweatshirt the entire evening, whereas Young Thug rotated outfits between each mini-set, finishing off in an over-sized Native American poncho for the climax of the show.
It's easy to see why Travis Scott's gothic-nouveau approach to trap music has him tapped by the hiphop cognoscenti to blow up. La Flame's songs are darkly cinematic and unsettling in fresh ways, but it remains unseen how well this will scale to mainstream audiences. Relying heavily on vocal processing, and without the punchy humor common among all popular rap artists, it will be interesting to see how his upcoming full length debut will be received.
Young Thug has tapped firmly into the zeitgeist, and with multiple hits already under his belt, his debut LP will almost certainly be a coronation rather than an evaluation. With a deep cadre of flows and voices, he's expanded upon the palette of alternative rap deliveries that Danny Brown previously explored and effortlessly renders the weird unforgettable.