This past Saturday, thousands of fans descended upon Terminal 5 to witness something that wasn’t just a concert, but a momentous occasion for New York Drill Music, as well as those involved. Headlining the event was the popular Brooklyn Hip-Hop group, 41, whose recent track “Bent,” has been going viral on the algorithms and booming in venues all over the city. The track also received a fresh remix with support from the Hood Hottest Princess herself, Sexyy Redd. Locals acts Rella Gz, DJ Funk Flex, Scar Lip, Bizzy Banks, and Cash Cobain helped fill out the lineup as well, while also serving as a decent representation of the brightest the city has to offer the world (at this moment).
Rella Gz kicked things off for the night, giving a strong-yet-short performance to begin the event. Supported by DJ Bandsome Will on the tables as well, the young crowd feverishly cheered for the emerging Bronx Drill rapper. A short DJ followed Rella’s set, and soon gave way to the following performer, Cash Cobain. Cash has been making a lot of headway for himself recently, with major placements Drake’s “For All The Dogs,” Pinkpantheress’ “Heaven knows,” and Trippie Redd’s “Saint Michael V2” in the past two months alone. Personally, I was surprised that Cash was only the second act and not further into the lineup, but as someone who isn’t involved in that process I can only speculate. Regardless of the time slot, Cash maintained a great performance, playing hits for his core fans, and some of his new tunes as well. He even brought out Vontee The Singer to perform one of their collaborative tracks live.
I do want to note that during Cash’s set, he stopped the performance entirely to ensure that a fan who had seemingly collapsed, was okay. Cash didn’t proceed with the rest of his set until the fan was tended to, which may just seem like basic concert etiquette, but when there are instances of fans passing of exhaustion in sweltering arenas, or in crowd crushes at other live events, moments like these from a considerably smaller artist are honestly a delight to see.
Cash’s set was followed up by a Funk Flex DJ Set. I had never seen Funk Flex live before, but he certainly knows how to work a crowd. Although his entire selection consisted of local and mainstream hits from Radio’s past and present, it was still a very solid set I found myself thoroughly enjoying as a member of the audience. Bronx Drill Icon Dougie B also made an appearance behind the Tables, but in a strictly visual fashion as he didn’t hop on the mic to perform or anything of the sort. Funk Flex ended his set by introducing one of the hottest artists coming out of the Bronx (and Talk of the Town 2023 Artist of The Year Nominee!) Scar Lip.
Accompanying her onstage were a pair of backup dancers, who danced both beside her and at times alongside her as she even employed some lite choreography herself. Although she’s only had a few songs since her breakout hit “This Is New York,” it was clear that she gave all of her energy to each performance. She even brought out fellow Bronx artists Connie Diiamond, and Big Yellow, who performed their own hits to help bolster Scar Lip’s overall set. I was thoroughly impressed by Scar Lip, and seeing this set in person definitely pushed me in the direction of becoming a fan.
Bizzy Banks was the next artist to come onstage, and brought his entire crew onstage with him. The presence of his crew onstage was definitely visually overwhelming at first, as I couldn't tell where Bizzy was momentarily, but it soon became clear that he was in the red sweater and blue bucket hat with the mic in his hand. As the set continued, he also had some backup dancers who performed intermittently alongside his bars. The crowd loved every song that Bizzy performed, and his crew maintained a large presence onstage but moved noticeably further into the background after their initial appearance. I understand the culture behind it, but from a performance standpoint, having them all there instead of waiting in the wings was a bit distracting, and detracted from Bizzy’s overall performance in my eyes, but a time was had, regardless of my personal feelings on it.
The air became electric as the crowd anticipated the moment they’d been waiting all night for, the headlining act, 41. Tata was the first member of the trio to touch the stage, opening with his solo tracks. Jenn Carter joined him several songs later, and Kyle Richh followed suite soon after, with the crowd’s reaction gaining in volume and intensity for each appearance. 41 has come a long way since “Notti Bop” dropped and thrust them further into the spotlight, and the evolution could not be more apparent. Although they had a vocal backing track, they actually rapped, instead of leaning on the vocals as something of a crutch. Another thing they did differently from the rest of the artists on the billing tonight, was toss shirts out into the crowd. It wasn’t just a couple of shirts either. The group and their team threw dozens of 41-branded t-shirts out to all sides of the crowd, making sure that several people got their hands on one in each section. Something else that struck me as notable was the two obviously armed security guards who stood on separate wings of the stage, watching the stage and everyone around them at all times. I had no frame of reference for something like this, not to say that it doesn’t happen for other artists at other shows. Admittedly, I did find myself paying attention to them instead of 41, but purely because this had been something I’d never seen before. If you are familiar with the group’s music and history, then it also shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there are armed guards onstage, regardless of any other not-so-obvious security measures that may have been taken.
The presence of those guards highlights exactly why the concert was a shining moment for the New York Drill scene. Although the genre has retained notoriety for the emphasis on - and sometimes real-world consequences of - beef, it was great to see an event of this stature occur without a major issue. Considering many shows by New York Drill artists end up happening beyond state lines (looking specifically at Dingbatz), this show proves that there can be a successful Drill Show in New York City. Hopefully, this show serves as the necessary precedent, so that we might begin to cultivate the proper thriving of these young artists and allow them the spaces in their hometown to express themselves and their art.
I would also like to thank RITEORWRONGKVH Ent, and NishLikeWish founder Nishat Baig, for inviting me and Talk of The Town to cover this event, and ultimately witness a pivotal moment in New York Drill history.