Super Bowl LIII may be a face-off between Los Angeles and New England, but on Thursday night (Jan. 31), the festivities were all about Atlanta. The SBLIII host city received a star-studded tribute at the EA Sports Bowl at State Farm Arena, where ATL natives Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, 21 Savage, Lil Jon, Ciara, T.I., Jeezy and Ludacris reminded fans that this is the epicenter of hip-hop.
The only out-of-towner to take the stage was St. Louis-born Metro Boomin, yet he made his set all about the ATL with help from 21 Savage. In between his own hits from the 2017 smash “Bank Account” to his current hit “A Lot,” 21 Savage made sure to show his city some love as Metro declared, “We turnin’ up tonight!”
Though the show had only begun, fans in attendance were clearly pumped for a night full of hip-hop, as songs in between each set — led by hype man Big Tigger — had the crowd going as wild as if they were live. While a lot of the tunes were throwbacks like Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On,” Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” and D4L’s “Laffy Taffy,” Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba” had the crowd the most riled up before the Quality Control family took over the stage.
Trippie Redd (who signed with QC’s management company Solid Foundation last year) wasn’t even on the bill and admitted he lost his voice from being sick, but hinted that he couldn’t pass up a chance to rep for Atlanta. “I still want to show some love to everybody and shit,” he said between “Dark Knight Dummo” and “Taking a Walk.” Lil Yachty kept the energy up with a hard-hitting set of his classics, banging out “iSpy,” “Broccoli” and “Minnesota” all in a row before Lil Baby brought the hype even higher with “Close Friends,” “Freestyle” and “Drip Too Hard,” the latter of which prompted a massive sing-along.
After a series of quick-hit sets from their Atlanta cohorts, Migos reminded fans that they’re the current kings of Atlanta with a 45-minute series of jams from “Ice Tray” and “Slippery” to “Fight Night” and their breakout Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “Bad and Boujee,” which had the crowd going wild. While they easily could’ve carried the performance on their own, Migos decided to add some more Atlanta flair to their set by bringing out Gucci Mane for their collab “I Get The Bag.”
Lil Jon used his DJ set to give fans from out of town “a little history lesson” on Atlanta hip-hop, also declaring his pick for the Super Bowl: “Ain’t no Patriots fans in this motherfucker, this is the ATL!” His appearance set the tone perfectly for Ludacris’ guest-filled ode to Atlanta, as fans started an “ATL Hoe!” chant before Luda took the stage.
As the clock struck midnight, Ludacris erupted into his show-closing set with an electric performance of “Welcome To Atlanta,” starting the surprises right off the bat with Jermaine Dupri. Luda then fired off his career-spanning collection of jams, including “Stand Up,” “Money Maker” and “How Low,” inviting Lil Jon back for “Yeah.”
The cameos conitunued with as-promised appearances from Ciara — who slayed her choreography-filled medley performance of “Goodies,” “1,2 Step,” “Level Up” and “Ride” — and Jeezy, who assisted on “Dey Know,” a tribute to late Atlanta rapper Shawty Lo. After several proclamations that the night was a historic one for Atlanta hip-hop, Ludacris made good on his word, bringing out T.I. (to none other than “Bring ‘Em Out,” naturally) for a first-time performance of Luda, T.I. and Jeezy all together.
Though T.I. delivered a handful of his own hits like “Live Your Life” and “What You Know,” the ATL-born star declared that he was standing alongside the gatekeepers of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene “who made a way for motherfuckers to do what the fuck they doing right now.” Whether or not those still remaining in the post-1 a.m. crowd agreed, Ludacris capped off a homecoming for Atlanta’s hip-hop legends and current superstars, with T.I. issuing the best summary possible: “When you come to this city, you know it’s ours.”
Video credit: ALIVE / On Location Experiences