“Purple lights for Prince,” said Young Thug, who paid homage to the late icon at the start of his sold-out New York City show on the Hy!£UN35 (pronounced “Hi-Tunes”) tour Monday night (May 2). Dressed in a white blouse and skinny jeans while rocking a microphone with the signature love symbol in black, the Atlanta rapper was also flanked by two large cardboard cut-outs of Michael Jackson and the Purple One. Images of Prince, one with a guitar and another with purple lighting shooting out of his finger, were also projected onstage. If you looked closely, Prince’s face transformed into Thug’s, a possible sign of the Atlanta rhymer’s aspirations to attain icon status one day.
One outfit change later, Thugga donned his Hy!£UN35 tour t-shirt, occasionally smiling to show off his new veneers. His set list stemmed mostly from his recently released projects — the Slime Season series, Barter 6 and I’m Up — and had the audience rapping in unison once he hit the stage at 10 p.m. The hype reached new levels when throwback singles “Stoner” and “Danny Glover” boomed throughout the Playstation Theater.
Several hours before, Quality Control Music’s roster and affiliates amped up the crowd: Dae Dae, Rich the Kid, YSL Duke, Lil Yachty and a DJ set by TM88 of 808 Mafia. Fans cheered on ATL MC Rich The Kid, whose energy was contagious as he ran through cuts from Dabbin Fever and Trap Talk, dreads swinging as he hopped from side-to-side on-stage. The loudest reactions came from his cuts “Goin’ Crazy” and “Plug,” but he also had concertgoers on tilt during his rendition of Carnage’s “WDYW,” a song he’s featured on alongside A$AP Ferg and Lil Uzi Vert.
Up next was Lil Yachty, the 18-year-old rapper who modeled for Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 fashion show and The Life of Pablo premiere at Madison Square Garden in February. Since then, he’s released his Lil Boat debut, attracting a strong following that showed up for the Hy!£UN35 tour stop. During his 30-minute set, Yachty mixed Lil Boat tracks and Internet loosies like “Water on My Face” and his Famous Dex collaboration “4Real.” He shouted out his incarcerated friend and collaborator, K$upreme, performing a few of his songs before launching into the crowd-pleasers “Minnesota” and “1Night.” He even offered in Auto-Tune beforehand, “I need y’all open up the circle so we can have a mosh pit. When this beat drops, go fucking crazy.” Surprise guest OG Maco also made an appearance, delivering the fiery “FuckEmx3” and his breakout hit “U Guessed It.”
Headliner Thugger’s super catchy catalog was the perfect nightcap. With cell phone beams shining brighter than the house lights, standout tracks like “About the Money,” “Check” and “Lifestyle” lit up the audience. At one point, Young Thug crowd surfed, losing his sneaker in the process. During his finale “Best Friend,” his real-life sisters came on stage for support and even busted out their dance moves with Thugger (as seen in the BFF anthem’s video), ending the show on a high note.