The recent wave of rainy weather taking over Colorado oddly suited the ominous vibes Grisdela Records brought to Mission Ballroom this past week on their Claire’s Back Tour. The group of hardened street figures have spent a little under a decade conveying the hardships of coming up in Buffalo, New York through music to become one of the most talked about groups in this current generation of Hip Hop. It was needless to say there was much anticipation for the head-turning lyricism and grimmy authenticity many fans were accustomed to going into the event.
After a wave of DJ’s and openers, Westside Gunn took to the stage with his hype men, going from song after song from his vast double-digit discography of albums and mixtapes from the last few years. Personally being a fan since before Pray For Paris, it truly was a highlight getting to see Gunn show off what has made him one of the best in the current rap space. Definitely making his presence known, strutting around in a Rockies jersey and glistening jewelry partly inspired by rapper MF DOOM. Gunn brought much confidence to the mic while bantering with the audience about adjusting to the air quality and infamous Colorado weed; overall he just seemed to be on good vibes.
Armani Caesar went on to make a surprise spotlight alongside Gunn with a series of infectious tracks off her latest Griselda release, THE LIZ, also announcing more music is coming soon. Wearing a jacket with diamond-infested bling rocking her hard-hitting verses, Caesar demands the spotlight with ease and makes her time valuable.
One-third of the way through the 4-hour event Benny The Butcher popped out, still fresh off releasing one of the best projects this past year, Tana Talk 4. Out of everyone on the stage, Benny easily took the spotlight with the most aggression, pridly acknowledging Montana Ave. to respect living by the verses he raps. Showing love to Westside and Armani as he bopped between his Plugs I Met series and Burden of Proof, he acknowledges the recent fist fight with rapper Freddie Gibbs and putting respect on his and his label’s name. As music listeners, It’s so easy to get caught in the entertainment of the drama and music that it’s easy to forget that these things are their reality and to not overstep that often blurred line.
If you thought the hype train was slowing down up to this point, “The Undertaker of Buffalo” Conway The Machine himself struts onstage to the crowd roaring, putting gas into the engine fresh off hitting wax. Despite leaving Griselda Records this past February, nothing breaks the bond of his brothers, both metaphorical and literal for Westside Gunn. Although he had the shortest set, Conway brought the most stage presence with the help of his signature facial expressions, getting the crowd and fellow people onstage bopping to recent release God Don’t Make Mistakes and classics from King To A GOD. Overall, nobody left anything on the table and this show only leaves you eager seeing what lies ahead for the artists and label as the setup for a wave of rollouts for the rest of this year.