Live music in Cincinnati is back and Khari is taking full advantage. The Queen City-bred rapper opened for Grammy-nominated artist Freddie Gibbs last week at Newport, Kentucky’s Thompson House.
“It meant a lot to open up for him,” Khari told Audiofemme after the show. “He’s someone who I respect as an artist and someone I’ve been listening to for a while now, and to be representing Cincinnati on the bill, I definitely took pride in the fact that I was able to open up for a Grammy-nominated artist.”
Khari performed several cuts from the latest installment of his This Is How We Feel EP series: Act 2 (Institutionalized), including “Hood Millennials” and crowd-pleaser, “Stupid.” The local talent also performed his verse from the 2019 Cincy posse cut, “Da Art of Ignorance (Remix),” before winding down to some conscious records.
“Going into the show, I knew I wanted to show my versatility with my set, so that meant displaying my more upbeat tracks and then transitioning into some more soulful records,” Khari said. “Me and my team literally found out about four days before the show that Freddie’s management team liked the music and that we were in to do the show. So, I got with my DJ, and we rehearsed Sunday for about five hours, then Wednesday morning before the show for a couple hours.”
Besides performing a well-balanced set, Khari also proved his ability to engage the crowd. The rapper led audience members through a handful of T.I. classics to mark the beginning of Libra season and bolstered a powerfully unifying moment while rapping “Eve.” During the emotional track, which serves as his tribute to Black women, Khari called on the crowd to hold up their lighters and cellphone flashlights.
“By far the biggest moment of the show for me was performing ‘Eve’ and seeing the entire venue [hold] their cell phone lights up as we put on for Black women,” he reflected.
The crowd’s energy carried over into Gibbs’ headlining set, who performed a medley of cuts from his Grammy-nominated collab with The Alchemist, Alfredo. The Gary, Indiana native opened with “God Is Perfect” and continued through the night with tracks like “Thuggin’” from his and Madlib’s 2014 album Piñata, ESGN‘s “Eastside Moonwalker,” 2019’s Bandana cut “Palmolive,” and his most his recent collaboration with ScHoolboy Q, “Gang Signs.”
Gibbs’ stage presence was felt all the way in the balcony and his performance was repeatedly interrupted with fan-led “Freddie! Freddie!” chants. After waiting over an hour to see him perform, it would’ve been understandable for the audience to be a tad bit subdued by the beginning of his 11:15 pm set, but the crowd was clearly excited just to be at a live show again. Freddie also kept the energy up by jokingly ripping into his tour DJ Ralph, or DJ CaliNdaMix, by leading the crowd in “Fu*k you, Ralph!” chants.
All in all, the energy of Cincinnati fans, and performers, was a great reintroduction to live shows after a year of radio silence. Aside from Khari and Gibbs, Nashville’s Tim Gent and A.B. Eastwood also performed at the concert, which was put on by DJ Dabble’s Full Circle Presents.
“As far as feelings after the show – I felt great,” Khari reflected. “I knew I killed it and the response has been great. I gained so many new fans that have been hitting me in the DMs, listening to my music and made some valuable connections that will start to play out for me and my team here soon. So, I’m excited.”
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