Usher Delivers the Classics, Travis Scott Tributes Kanye West at Hot 97 Holidays Concert
The New York radio station hosted its Hot For The Holidays concert in Newark, N.J., on Saturday (Dec. 3), packed with veteran and rising names in hip-hop and R&B. Fans, press and entourage members gathered in the city’s Prudential Center, where the festive showcase brought the heat and then some.
Revisit the highlights from Hot 97’s holiday concert below.
While ticketholders were still making their way to their seats, the audience was treated to openers Jidenna and Kehlani. As Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg deemed him one of the most "woke" artists in the game in his introductory remarks, the Wondaland signee came out to perform a brief set, including his recent gem "Long Live The Chief." Following in his dapper footsteps was Kehlani, who already earned her slot in the ladies' hearts. The Oakland singer opened up her set with You Should Be Here favorite "The Way" alongside her backup dancers, DJ and keyboardist. She also performed her latest single, "Distraction," and had the women on their feet for her closing jam "CRZY."
Joey Bada$$ lit up the stage
The Brooklyn native was met with a strong response from the youthful crowd upon his entrance. Going through his lyrical numbers like "Big Dusty," Bada$$ represented hard for his Pro Era team while taking the stage. The MC finished things off with his hit "Devastated," which solidified an electric energy that carried on for the rest of the night.
Lil Yachty proved his haters wrong
Despite the immense amount of criticism he receives from the older hip-hop community, Yachty was welcomed to the stage with nothing but excitement. His fanbase was loud and present as the entire arena embraced his catchy melodies throughout his set. Lil Boat went through all of his big tracks, including his No. 1 D.R.A.M collaboration "Broccoli," “Minnesota” and breakout smash "1 Night." Before departing, Yachty paid tribute to Kodak Black, who was released from prison earlier in the week.
T.I. reminded us of his kingly legacy
The Atlanta rapper didn’t disappoint as he stuck to his history of hit records to give fans their money’s worth. Going through hits from his humble beginnings to his now-solidified veteran cuts, Tip performed tracks like "Top Back," "Rubberband Man," "24’s" and "U Don’t Know Me." The Southern MC also catered to the ladies with his smash hits "Whatever You Like" and the Rihanna-featuring chart topper "Live Your Life." Of course T.I. didn’t forget some of his biggest hits, as he made sure to give his loyal fans a live performance of “What You Know,” and “Bring 'Em Out.”
Known for his inspirational and outspoken nature, Tip also used his platform to share a strong message with the diverse crowd. "Anything you want in life is possible," he stated before transitioning into his more recent fan favorite “About The Money.”
Funk Flex unleashed many surprises
Next up was DJ Funkmaster Flex. The Hot 97 DJ didn’t disappoint as he brought out a hyped up Phresher to kick off his set. Flex then orchestrated one of the most energetic moments of the night as Young M.A. touched the stage. The Brooklyn MC performed her banger “OOOUUU,” as smartphone flashlights lit up the venue for her infamously catchy “Headphanie” lyric.
French Montana followed, joining Flex’s lineup to perform his "Hot N---a" remix along with his slew of hits including "Ain’t Worried About Nothin" and his verse on A$AP Ferg’s "Work." He also made sure to tribute to his late brother Chinx Drugz, who would have celebrated his 33rd birthday that same evening. The best surprise, however, was an appearance from Jeezy, who performed two of his classic tracks "Who Dat" and "Lose My Mind" before thanking fans for helping his latest release, Trap Or Die 3, hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
As Terror Squad loyalists await their joint album, Joe and Rem joined Flex's set, making their grand entrance with the summer smash "All The Way Up." As Joey Crack brought nostalgic vibes, sporting an extravagant mink coat, Remy proved she hasn’t lost a beat. The two took it back to the peak Terror Squad era, performing "Lean Back" as the crowd danced along and chanted the beloved hook.
Young Thug experienced some technical difficulties
Fans were eager to have Thugger hit the stage, but when he emerged the music was not on his team’s side. His DJ experienced had some trouble getting the equipment to work on stage, leaving the Atlanta native frustrated as he tried to cater to the crowd. Eventually the rapper stormed off stage and a chorus of boos erupted though the rapper was not to blame.
Travis Scott set the roof on fire
Show-goers were ready to rage for La Flame. "Security, you better not stop a motherf--king fan,” the rapper warned before running through hits like “Way Back” and “Pick Up The Phone” off his chart-topping LP Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight.
The Mo City MC also spoke on his close friends, Kanye West and Kid Cudi, who have both recently been hospitalized. "When the people you care about are down, you don’t talk shit,” he said. As a tribute, Scott performed "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" followed by his Cudi collaboration track "Through The Late Night.”
The rapper's set was filled with euphoria as he sprayed the crowd with water, climbed on top of speakers, and even crowd surfed for the last song, "Antidote." He also teased that he is in the process of planning one of the "best tours" with "one of the illest motherf--kers of all time." He promised that all of the details would be coming in the near future.
Usher delivered nothing but the hits
The R&B king hit the stage for the headlining act around 11:30 p.m. Starting off with his sensual hit "Good Kisser," the Atlanta native then performed his classics such as "U Don’t Have To Call," "Caught Up" and "U Got It Bad." He also nailed a smooth transition between fan favorites "Confessions" and "Confessions Pt. 2," taking full advantage of his accompanying live band’s instrumentation.
Usher didn’t even need to sing his tracks in full as the audience belted every word. He then sang "Bad Girl" as Teyana Taylor made a special appearance as Usher’s co-dancer. The two showed off some undeniable chemistry with their choreography as the Harlem singer (who also performed at VH1 Divas Unsilent Night special the night before) flaunted a few moves as seen in Kanye West's viral "Fade" video.
One of the best highlights of the night came while Usher was performing his recent hit, "No Limit," where Young Thug popped up for his guest verse. Thugger also apologized to his fans for not performing earlier, saying, "I’m so sorry. [This] won’t happen again." Usher also brought out A$AP Ferg to quickly perform "New Level," closing the night on a high note.