Better Than: Watching the outrageous line form in front of Supreme on launch days.
“I don’t ever play shows as small as this,” a slightly underwhelmed A$AP Nast said to a sea of bucket hats, snapbacks, and cameras. And when we say slightly underwhelmed, we really mean that both Nast and the crowd were severely underwhelmed.
See also: The A$AP Rocky Drinking Game
The Paper Box in Williamsburg is indeed an intimate and perhaps slightly disenchanting spot for someone of Nast’s talents. The venue is no SOBs or Terminal 5 — the Paper Box’s stage is small and the space is minimally decorated, save for a few large LED-lit displays of animals. But, as everyone thought, the basic-ness of the venue was just setting the stage for real New York rap.
The show — dubbed Beerly Sober — seemed like a first step in reinforcing local hip-hop, with emcees repping the boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan; and an answer to the prayers of Queens-native and Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, who recently slammed Hot 97 for narrowing the scope of urban radio and failing to showcase local hip-hop. This show was the solution to the call for more grassroots rap, as the New York DJs and emcees ran through their sets with fluidity, easily hyping, and interacting with, the crowd.
A$AP Nast didn’t waste any time when he donned the stage, moving right into his breakout track “Trillmatic,” from A$AP Mob’s soon-to-be-released debut album L.O.R.D. After the song was over, he hardly related to the crowd, except for his first remark on the smallness of the venue and a comment he made later about how he doesn’t have A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg with him tonight, but he’s good without them. In all honesty, though, his set might have fared better with Rocky and Ferg’s backing.
A$AP Nast hasn’t dropped a solo project like his A$AP Mob cohorts Rocky and Ferg. While Nast’s catalog is small, his rhymes are boastful, his flow rapid-fire. Though his cockiness usually serves him well, Saturday night there was a disconnection between the vanity of his words and his presence onstage. After “Trillmatic,” he played “Black Mane” and “Gotham City,” the whistle from his trademark chipped tooth practically inaudible with the reverberating bass. He covered his feature from A$AP Rocky’s “Trilla,” and then launched into a rousing version of “Hella Hoes,” where he was joined by members of A$AP Mob (no Rocky or Ferg though). It was the height of the set and a real turn-down-for-what moment…until it all abruptly ended and everyone onstage dipped with barely a goodbye.
A$AP Nast played a 15-minute, five-song set. That’s it. No encore. From the moment Nast stepped on stage, the disappointment between him and the fans was palpable. No one was really hyped as they were for the previous acts, and everyone was confused when Nast’s set was unexpectedly over. A lot more can be said about the openers than Nast himself, whose sets were longer. To top it off, Nast himself didn’t seem to be having a good time.
This begs the question, why did he even do the show in the first place? He didn’t have enough material — even opener G4SHI and DJ Zeemuffin had longer sets. Nast’s comments about how he doesn’t often play venues like the Paper Box seemed like him saving face with an insufficient catalog of music. Although he’s set to premiere his debut album God Bless America soon, you’d think he would have rolled out some new tracks. The whole set seemly like a cop-out. Though, so far, his singles have proved to be bangers, he gave nothing to the fans, except a sobering finish, and perhaps the smallest taste of what’s hopefully to come. The kid’s got chops — he definitely seems like the next A$AP Mob member to blow up — but he’s got to step his game up.
Overheard: “I like this guy, his energy’s like Waka [Flocka Flame]” — girl talking about G4SHI
Overheard #2: “Oh my god, my hair!” — after G4SHI sprayed water on his audience
Random Notebook Dump: “If you came in on my guest list and you’re over there or over there and not in the front, you can suck my fucking dick.” — G4SHI to his audience