It’s a weird feeling. About three years ago, I, a young and naive fan lined up at the doors of Kool Haus for the very first time waiting to catch Fabolous live in concert. Due to numerous circumstances that night, my experience was soured. For years, it’s been one of moments I wished I could re-live for the better.
Fast track to this past Thursday. It would seem stars aligned and the opportunity presented itself once again. Fabolous at Kool Haus? How could I say no, this was my redemption; a second chance at my once soured concert under the same circumstances. Personally, it was kind of fitting – my first show at Kool Haus started with the Brooklyn rapper, and my last show will end with him, but this time, along for the ride was Detroit’s rising star Dej Loaf, who set as the opening act.
Dej Loaf is a singer and rapper, whose roots are grounded in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Dej rose to stardom this past year after releasing her single “Try Me“, which gained viral internet popularity after Toronto own Drake quoted lyrics from the song in an Instagram post. With recently gained buzz, she was able to climb the charts on the Billboard Hot 100. Shortly after that, she released a mixtape called, Sell Sole and locked a deal with Columbia Records, which has helped rocket her career towards success. Recently, she was featured on Eminem‘s “Detroit vs. Everybody,” which lives on the Shady Record’s compilation album, Shady XV.
Before Fabolous hit the stage, Dej Loaf sprung into action after the MC introduced her. She performed a range of tracks includes songs from her first mixtape, Just Do It and from her recent mixtape Sell Sole. She performed buzzing tracks like “We Good,” “Blood” and “We Be On It” to build up the crowd’s energy. Dej’s personality takes shape in her performance as she really gives her attention towards the fans. At moments, we would lock eyes and, at least for me, I knew she was about her craft. Or even how she lunged into the media pit to say what’s up and take selfies with several fans along the front stage. To me, it shows she really cares and tries to stay engaged with her fans.
There’s something about artist and fan interaction that always resonates with me. Towards the close of her performance, she called upon her friends to join her onstage for a special performance of her hit single “Try Me“, which had the crowd wildin’. Fans frantically raised their phones in the air to capture special moment while they sang along. You could say it helped seal the deal on her very enjoyable performance.
To follow Dej and to keep the buzz going, Fabolous took to the stage, calm and cool as ever, rocking the ‘iciest’ in jewelry. He got it started by performing tracks from his latest EP Young OG Project. He performed “Lituation“, “We Good”, “She Wildin”, “Bish Bounce”, “Rap & Sex,” which garnered a huge response from the crowd. With the crowd raving for more, Fabolous dived into his music past to remind us how far he’s come. While taking in his whole performance, I realized Fabolous has a plethora of chart topping records, which catered to any and every type of fan present in the building.
For the day-one fans, he took to performing “Breathe,” which remains to be a personal favorite track of mine. For the ladies, he performed “Throw It In A Bag“, “Make Me Better“, “You Be Killin Em“, “Say Ahh”, “Baby Don’t Go“. For the mixtape fans, he performed, “Cuffin’ Season“, “Young OG“. For the ‘underground’ fans, he performed his verse from Meek Mill‘s “Racked Up Shawty”, Lloyd Bank‘s “Start It Up“, Ty Dolla $ign‘s “Type Of Shit I Hate” and Red Cafe‘s “I’m Ill“.
Throughout his performance, Fabolous‘ approach and attitude spoke of confidence and history. Not many fans realize this, but Fabolous remains to be one of the most consistent artists of our generation. His musical career grew in ’98, since then he has built a resume of radio singles and Billboard hits for the past 17 years. He’s gained the respect of several celebrities, rising musicians and hip-hop legends. I could even dare say he will continue to be a consistent and dominant force for many years. Looking back at my experience three years ago, much of his set was filled with performances of verses he built over his musical career with various artists. Now, he can carry his own set with the recognizable hits and singles he’s done over the years. Out of the thousands of artists, Kool Haus could have picked a better artist to celebrate the end of the long-lived nightclub.
To close of the last year, Fabolous released his EP, Young OG Project, which features collaborations with Chris Brown, Rich Homie Quan, Kevin Hart, Velous, French Montana and much more. Select tracks are produced by Vinylz, Boi-1da, Chase.N.Cashe, Phonix Beats and much more. The album is available to purchase via iTunes. Currently, he is working behind the scene on the official visuals for his single, “Ball Drop” featuring Coke Boy honcho French Montana. Be sure to look out for that coming soon.
All photos taken by Jonathan Joseph.