On the evening of Friday, April 3, fans gathered outside the ’Sco to claim an additional 200 tickets released hours before Lil Bibby’s concert performance. At 10 p.m. when the doors opened, ’Sco student employee and College junior Matthew Walker demanded the mob transform into a single file line — a task easier said than done. High School students from the town accounted for the majority of the line, which made the occasional Oberlin student actually seem out of place, especially with the cluster of moms accompanying their teenagers.
Fresh off his second mix-tape, Free Crack 2, released last August, Lil Bibby came to Oberlin as part of his 2015 Get To Know Me tour. The 20-year-old Chicago-based rapper certainly fostered hype, enough to warrant the presence of police officers, all of whom were equipped with metal detectors and warned attendees to self-declare any guns or knives. Adding to the allure was opening act Oberlin High School junior, 16 yr old.
Now 17 years of age, 16 yr old became popular on Oberlin’s campus after performing a set at Storage last month. He seems mature beyond his years and refusing to be complacent with hometown success, has strategically using social media platforms to gain exposure. While his slowed-down, trap-rap remixes on SoundCloud have deservingly tallied nearly 400,000 listens, he catered to the crowd last Friday by spinning mostly upbeat drill, a subgenre of hip-hop that originated in Chicago and is featured prominently in Lil Bibby’s sound.
Lil Bibby took the stage around midnight to an excitable but thankfully less aggressive crowd than the one at Joey Bada$$’s ’Sco performance last month. Lil Bibby himself is noticeably dull in most of his online videos. As an inductee to the XXL Magazine’s 2014 Freshman Class of notable rappers, he performed a cypher, now on YouTube, in which each ‘freshman’ takes turns spitting prepared verses. He is the only rapper that stands nearly motionless and emotionless, looking uninterested with arms crossed, as others rap in front of him. He performed with a similarly unenergetic air in Oberlin, but that’s just his style, and for some reason, it works. His voice is surprisingly deep, and by flowing at a deliberate pace, his lines hit hard.
The few crew members who backed Lil Bibby on stage followed current hip-hop standards by randomly spraying the audience with water. While this inevitably induces squeals, which may be mistaken as excitement, I’ve never understood the action’s appeal and think at best, its a disrespectful, by which mechanism to engage the audience.
Regardless of my stance on this tradition, Lil Bibby is a musician on the rise. Just two days prior to Friday’s show, he was featured on a track released by prominent Chicago rapper Chief Keef. Drake and Kevin Durant have given the young rapper positive reviews. But like so many established rappers that perform at Oberlin, Lil Bibby’s set seemed to end abruptly before he exited the stage. A couple hours later he tweeted, “Diss me & you’ll never hear a reply for it.” Unfortunately, there is no telling whether this was related to the show.