Waka Flocka Flame is fully enjoying his moment. The Atlanta, Georgia rapper’s party-pandering, floor-stomping assault has been a mainstay in the club since his quick rise in 2009 as a protégé of Gucci Mane, and with his second full-length release—Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family, due out in June—his party-rap takeover will most likely become even stronger. Need more proof? At a Spin-sponsored party (he’s the latest issue’s cover star), surrounded by taxidermy and baroque splendor, Flocka Flame turned the posh, tapestry-filled Bowery Hotel into a sweaty, foundation-shaking, crowd-surfing mess.
His personality hasn’t hurt his appeal—it often seems more dynamic than his low-end bombing beats, and his unorthodox charm has helped him build an audience seemingly one person at a time. He stayed true to his upcoming album title by, on this night, focusing on his fans. Walking around gregariously before the show, he stopped for photos and chatted up anybody who came up to giddily say hello.
The energy in the upper floor of the downtown hotel was understated, if not detached—at least until Waka and his massive crew piled on stage to an instant eruption of flashes and fistpumps.
Waka mugged for every lens and cell phone that came within eye view, ready to flex his tattoos at all times.
As if Flocka Flame performing on his own wouldn’t be audacious enough, he was surrounded by a small militia of hypemen who never let an unintentionally quiet moment squeak out.
One at a time, audience members started slipping on stage. If you were wearing spandex, you could surely count on a bit of facetime.
Waka’s subtle displays of passion in between the endless mobbing and head-banging were about the only element of nuance available, but they were enough to establish a real connection to the mythical, dreadlocked, gargantuan figure he’s created.
Words weren’t all that important, even if much of the crowd could flow along with his grimy, simplistic ryhmes. Waka has in the past admitted his indifference to lyrical content, but last year he made a pledge to work on “crafting my rap skills.”
During a performance at the most recent Paris Fashion Week, he was surrounded on stage by hip-hop intellegensia like Mos Def and Common. Could it be that voluptuously lush rats nest of hair?
After crushing through numbers like “Bustin at Them,” “Hard in the Paint,” and “Karma,” Waka heaved himself into the audience, ripped off his shirt, and joined his obedient obessives in a sweltering mess of lunging, hugging, and braggadocio-ready, face-to-face battle stances.
Once he returned to the stage, missing a shirt but still full of energy, the crowd took to the air.
Never more than a few inches removed from his audience, Flocka finished up his night with more mobbing to “No Hands” and “I Don’t Really Care.”
Ladies love Waka Flocka Flame.
Forget throwing in the towel or waving a white flag, Waka twirled his sweat-drenched rag in a triumphant spiral as he exited the stage. For someone with a decidedly low impetus to improve as a musician, his vivacious party nurturing was beyond dedicated.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 26, 2012