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Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review]

Calgary, AB – On Apr. 25, our good friends over at Two Towers, One Entertainment and Union Events teamed up to bring Rick Ross to Calgary for an all-ages show at the BMO Centre. After Rozay’s June 2014 show got cancelled last year, Calgary’s MMG fans were very salty. But it worked out all the better. Because Rozay dropped Hood Billionaire in November. And even though Hood Billionaire has NOTHING on its predecessor Mastermind, it was still an important Rozay milestone.

So to give you some context for the night of the show: the Calgary Flames were playing their first round finale game against the Vancouver Canucks next door in the Pengrowth Saddledome. After the local opening sets wrapped, boss man Bugsy from Two Towers hit the stage to make a VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: the Calgary Flames had just decimated the Vancouver Canucks. The Calgary Flames had JUST solidified their place in the second round of playoffs. People went nuts. So y’all know that the BMO Centre crowd went right the f**k off.

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

The evening opened up with sets from local artists Sinzere, Da Kid T, Bobby Blast’em and T-Bear. I feel like Calgary is miles ahead of some cities in terms of actually putting on for its local artists. Local openers are rarely a thing for the mainstream fans. People actually hit up promoters for set times so they can purposely miss a show’s opening acts. Other cities in Canada don’t even put on local openers. And when locals do get put on to big shows, they have to hustle tickets. If you’re not selling lots of tickets for a show, you’re not going to get performance time. That’s the way it is.

Sorry. I just opened up THAT can of worms: the age-old rap game dilemma that is putting on openers that can sell tickets vs. putting on openers that are actually talented. All y’all artists and promoters can go get into a heated fight about it, now. Actually. Hold off until after you read my review. I really want you to read my review. Thanks.

I was pleasantly surprised that Two Towers ran a contest for one of the show’s opening slots. Artists uploaded videos on to the Two Tower’s Facebook page and fans voted for their favourite videos. For the record: I didn’t vote in the contest. But I scrolled through the entries and every single video entry was titled, “THIS IS MY HOT FIRE,” or “RAP FIRE! HOTTEST RAPPER IN CALGARY.” That’s me paraphrasing. But you get the idea. I laughed. YOU GUYS. That’s not how you win a contest. Stop it. Stop it now. Poor form.

Longtime Calgary femcee Sinzere won the contest. Unfortunately I missed her set because I had problems at the door. But huge shout-out to Two Towers for creating that opportunity to let the audience choose their openers. After Sinzere hit the stage, Da Kid T, Bobby Blast’em and T-Bear filled out the rest of the opening time. Bobby Blast’em is someone who I’ve been sleeping on for a minute. He’s been making big moves in Calgary but I’ve stayed sleeping. I caught on to him a few months ago. And then I saw his set at 10 at 10 last month and was mad impressed. Homie has bars. I’m watching you, Bobby.

The last local opener for the night was T-Bear. I always remember the first time I saw T-Bear perform at 10 at 10 and he did that “Spose To Do” joint. And he just goofed the f**k off and I felt like I was watching Andre 3000 live. T-Bear still performs that song and it’s still one of my favourite things ever. When I first met him, T-Bear had moved to Calgary from the East Coast and was trying to find his place in Calgary’s scene. Now he’s getting slotted as the final opener on Two Towers shows. Good looks, sir.

After T’s set, DJ Newboy turnt up the crowd by spinning O.T. Genasis’ “CoCo” and Drake’s “Know Yourself” and every trap rap anthem of 2015. Watching bro-y 17 year olds yell “Bakin’ soda! I got bakin’ soda!” is really funny. Actually, watching anyone rap “CoCo” is funny – even O.T. Genasis. Sorry, O.T.

Finally the lights dimmed and everyone knew it was Rozay time. Rick Ross’ hype man – Duece Poppi – emerged on to the stage as DJ Sam Sneak manned the tables at the back of the stage. Several seconds later the boss Ross himself emerged from the murky backstage shadows wearing the most majestic long black fur-collared coat that ever happened. That coat deserves a review of its own. HOLY DAMN RICK ROSS. That jacket, though. BRB. Overheating.

Literally. Ross was overheating. He only wore the jacket for the beginning of his set because – OF COURSE – it’s a goddamn jacket. But still. Shout-out to Rozay’s jacket.

Ross performed the popular cuts from his discography, including most of his Canadian classics (i.e.: the Drake assisted songs). And even though Drizzy wasn’t in the building, he graced us with his presence via the backing tracks. Of course “I’m On On” got performed. And “Diced Pineapples.” That was sexy AF. That song is so moist. Let me explain further: “Pussy” is one of those words that requires meticulous placement and execution on a song. You can’t just start dropping “pussy” all over your track. You have to pre-meditate that ish. “Diced Pineapples” is a prime example of pussy placement. Whenever Rozay says, “Shorty so fine/ Pussy so fresh,” things get hot. That’s how you put a pussy on a song, people.

Throughout the evening, Rick also schooled the youngins (aka: the all-ages crowd) of Calgary on the importance of a heavy grizzly grunt. Throughout his set, he paused between songs to roar out a might “UGH!!” and encouraged the crowd to grunt right back at him. Of course they did. And of course it instilled Rozay with the most heart-warming smile ever. It was comparable to a kid getting EVERY GIFT HE EVER WANTED FOR CHRISTMAS. Rick Ross got everything he wanted in Calgary because y’all got in the game and reciprocated his grunts. Pat yourselves on that back, Calgary. You have just passed Level 1 of rap game grunting. We’ll work our way up. Hopefully in a few years, y’all will be able to do the Pusha T “YEEEUGH.” We’ll work on it, though.

Now I want to give a minute to give a proper shout-out to Rick’s hype man, Duece Poppi. Hype men are so overlooked. Because OBVIOUSLY they are hype men. They’re usually on the stage for nearly the entire duration of the set. They are rap game cheerleaders who have to dance, sing, rap, and grunt. If you catch a really good hype man, you’ll forget he was even a part of the show. And I feel like that’s how Duece ran his ish the other night.

I lurked Duece on the Internet and found out that in addition to hyping for Rozay, he writes songs, produces music for his Afro-punk outfit called The Needles, and raps about his white friends: “I got a redneck homeboy/ His name is Chuck/ We take monster bong hits in his monster truck.” I’m not playin’ with y’all. That’s a thing.

Ross’ MMG boys (who were all wearing fancy little Black Bottle Boys jackets) ran a tight ship during the set, too. You didn’t see them but they were backstage running things smooth. Shout-out to the squad for doing what squad’s should do. The stage was scattered with giant massive cardboard cutouts of Luc Belaire Rosé bottles, as well as cutouts of Rick Ross’ head. Towards the end of the night, one of the MMG homies discretely hopped up on the loudspeakers to dance around with a big cardboard cut-out head of Rick Ross. The Black Bottle Boys probably pulled straws on that one: “Short straw has to get up on the speakers and dance around with Rick’s head.”

I should note that in addition to the Rick heads and bottles, there was ONE single cardboard cut-out of Wale’s head. I kept tabs on Wale throughout the show. I even shot photos of sad lonely cardboard Wale (see below). It was forsaken. At one point the Luc Belaire bottle cut-out beside Wale fell down. No one noticed. Wale was forgotten. As he often is in the grand scheme of MMG (aka: the untouchable Rick Ross empire).

I’ve been sleeping on Wale since he got with MMG. Sometimes the Rose Rap and R&B Songza playlist puts “White Linen (Coolin)” and “Lotus Flower Bomb” on rotation. But other than that, I stay sleeping. I blame The Gifted. Has anyone actually listened to that, yet? If so, let me know. I have yet to find someone who can give me a thorough breakdown of the album. The Album About Nothing has been getting some major hype though. I’ll let you know if I cop a listen.

Okay. Let’s get back to the whole cardboard cut-out situation on the stage at the show. It was a PRIME representation of the MMG empire. We’ve got poster boy Rick Ross murking the hell out of everything he touches, while the other cats on his roster are pretty overlooked. I mean, where was Meek Mill’s cardboard cut-out head? Where was Stalley’s cardboard cut-out head? I think I saw Rick’s people passing out Ohio posters to the audience before Rozay took the stage. But that didn’t really do Stalley justice. Go download Ohio by Stalley.

Photography by Sarah Sussman

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com

Rick Ross in Calgary: The #HoodBillionaire experience [Review] - HipHopCanada.com
This is the sad cardboard cut-out of Wale on the stage


Twitter: @rickyrozay | @twotowersca | @OneEntEvents | @UnionEventsWest

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Sarah Jay

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Sarah Jay is based in Calgary and works as a freelance journalist and photographer. Sarah is also a former A&R talent scout for the Universal Music Scouting Program, and runs a vintage store during the day. Sarah has juried the JUNO Awards, The Polaris Music Prize, and The Prism Prize. She has been fortunate enough to interview and photograph some of hip-hop's greatest influencers including Future, ScHoolboy Q, Ghostface Killah, Moka Only, Maestro Fresh Wes, Shad, Joey Bada$$, Mac Miller, and more. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @ThisIsSarahJay

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