“I put some ice on my wrist, everywhere I pop out it’s dancing
I hit the crowd with some sh*t, soon as I walk out they standin’
I had to be patient for this, I’m the man now, was the man then”
I can’t help but feel differently as I rap these lyrics now because as an AVID SUPPORTER (I would claim the STAN position but I don’t have stalking in my blood!) that’s attended two shows in one year (only 8 months apart to be exact) the amount of growth I witnessed last night (November 24th) has left me completely shook. As soon as I heard the opening drop for “Man Now” play loud over the speakers, I knew that myself along with hundreds of others were in for a magical night.
The vibes were all there as it was his closing show for his first headlining tour (Swervo Tour) and Cleveland, OH came to show love. The lights were low with a calming blue hue, he was transitioning from his flex persona known as “Swervo” and you could feel that he was ready to dig deep and really talk his talk.
“I put some ice on my wrist, everyone I pop out it’s dancing
I hit the crowd with some sh*t, soon as I walk out they standin’”.
A man of his word, Herb was iced out and the crowd was on their feet with lit cellphones in the air… ready to capture whatever memory he was willing to give.
“I had to be patient for this, I’m the man now, was the man then”.
Ah, now this is where I, as an avid Herb supporter get excited because the “then to now” growth is quite impressive. When I attended my first Herb show (March, 2018) I had no idea what to expect…. in fact I was skeptical (if I’m being honest) because up until then I had only attended arena shows with the exception of one contemporary gospel artist. So as I waited in line, I was preparing myself for potentially a long wait and many local opening acts (which can grow tiresome if not executed properly).To say the least all of my expectations were true. However, this tour was much different as Herb was the main focus… as he should’ve been.
Although he performed many songs in March, there was so much outside influence in regards to local opening acts that I didn’t feel as though I was able to capture Herb’s essence as an artist. Yet… even with a lot of other influences he still gave just enough to keep me intrigued. I guess it was that mixed with my genuine love for his music that drove me to return to another show, and as I’m sure you can tell by my tone in this piece I’m glad I returned. As his albums “Humble Beast” and “Swervo” have proven that he’s far more than a drill rapper, this show specifically proved that he can hold his own as touring artist. Even without his scheduled guest, rapper Queen Key and producer/rapper Southside, Herb had the audience’s attention span locked and loaded… which to me proved the magnitude of his fan base.
By the third song I had established that I’ll always go see him live. It was everything from his stage props and provided imagery that welcomed me into his environment to his choices in lighting that set the ambiance for each song. I felt as though I was right where I was supposed to be and feeling exactly what I was supposed to feel… a rush of adrenaline as I had entered his version of a gangster’s paradise.
The line “ I had to be patient for this, I’m the man now was the man then” resonated as we were invited to travel through Herb’s career with throwbacks such as “Computers” , “Jugghouse” and of course a crowd favorite “Kill Sh*t”… (it came as no surprise that the venue erupted at the sound of ” know a couple n*ggas that’s down to ride for a homicide when it’s drama time”).
However, what did come as a surprise was his approach to storytelling. Unlike many arena shows that I’ve been to Herb didn’t spend a lot of time commentating between tracks, yet his presence was known as his story was told by his mannerism. His energy was unmatched as you could feel it in the ways that he’d ride the ebbs and flows of his track list!
As he paid respects to his beginnings and rise, he invited us to journey back to E. 79th street and S.Essex Ave… back to the corner to see lil herb throwing up signs that I couldn’t even begin to articulate as he performed “Lil gangbangin’ A$$”
“I felt as though I was right where I was supposed to be and feeling exactly what I was supposed to feel… a rush of adrenaline as I had entered his version of a gangster’s paradise.”
Imagine my aesthetic delight to see him throwing up his twisted fingers as he rapped in front of propped mock street signs (that read E. 79th St. and S.Essex Ave.)
“I was out there with that hard, I had that glass. Way before Goyard, I had that bag. I was up on Essex Block I should’ve been at class, they like ‘Herbo, yo lil’ gangbangin’ a$$’ and the crowd echoes “yo lil’ gangbangin’ a$$, yo lil.. Gangbangin’ a$$”.
The mood was set as if we had teleported to Chicago to watch an aspiring Herb manifest… and by this point I felt like I was personally connecting to his story (which in my opinion is what artistry is about. Forging unlike worlds and unfamiliar experiences together to create a unique synergy).
Now don’t get me wrong… although the highlight of the show for me was watching him settle behind the mic stand to pay homage to all his fallen homies as he introduced “Hood Legends”, the crowd went completely CRAZY for songs like:“Who Run It”, “Bonjour”, “Everything”, “ I like” and “Havin’ Sh*t” and I’d be remiss to not include that. And as the drop for Rollin’ sounded off Herb went missing off the stage to only be found in front of the crowd as a focal point for the commencing mosh pit.
I guess for many it was important to get those more known bangers out of the way, but for me personally it was all about the joy of seeing him connect with his fans as he closed out a major milestone in his career. Unlike individual bookings, Herb completed a headlining tour that touched 27 cities and that in itself is worth mentioning.
As he finished the night by shaking hands, taking photos and recording live on fans’ phones I concluded that after paying twice in the same year to see him live he truly was the “man now and the man then”.