By Rob Markman
Atlanta’s Hot 107.9 radio station threw their 17th annual Birthday Bash on Saturday night with a blow out line up at Philips Arena that included Gucci Mane, Rick Ross, Usher, Lil Wayne and T.I..
The five-hour bash started as new southern staples like Cash Out, Travis Porter and Future pumped up the crowd alongside beloved veterans Lil Jon, Pastor Troy, Crime Mob, Lil Scrappy, Rocko and Gucci Mane. Each set seemingly outdid the one that preceded it. After Future built the crowd into a frenzy with his catalog of hits (“Tony Montana,” “Same Damn Time” and “Turn on the Lights”), Rick Ross stormed the stage as energetic as ever. The MMG big man bounced up and down and controlled both the entire arena running through power tracks like “I’ma Boss,” “9 Piece” and “Bag of Money.”
While all opening acts were appreciated, none were greeted quite like the King of the South. At 10:15 p.m., T.I. took the stage while his live band riffed the opening chords to his 2010 single “I’m Back.” It was all very fitting considering it’s been a few years since Tip graced the stage which has made him royalty in his native city. “A-Town what’s happenin’? I’d like to welcome y’all to my Birthday Bash,” T.I. said.
Tip dug deep into his discography reciting tracks like “Rubberband Man” and “24s.” The Trap Muzik MC set the tone with street bangers before catering to the ladies with “Love This Life” and “Whatever You Like.” Immediately after, T.I. began to parade out his long list of multiplatinum friends. “It was a good 30 mil, maybe 50; maybe 50 mil,” Tip told MTV News after the show trying to estimate the amount of collective records sold between all of his specially invited guests.
First there was Usher, who sang his current smash “Climax” and then came Nelly, who along with Kelly Rowland performed his 2002 single “Dilemma.” Nelly exited the stage and left Kelly to rock her #1 single “Motivation.” Halfway through her tune, Lil Wayne skated out onto the stage rapping his guest verse. The Destiny’s Child singer then turned the stage over to the YMCMB boss, who rocked a number of his own hits like “Bill Gates” and “John.”
T.I. could’ve stopped there but then took his stage back proving that he could’ve easily performed without any help. Tip went solo for a few spitting “Swagga Like Us” and “Bring ‘em Out” and then once again played the gracious host inviting out newcomer Chief Keef and ATL veteran Young Jeezy.”All these people I called, these are personal acquaintances of mine, these are not people I call just because they have hit records,” T.I. told us.
At the end of T.I.’s set, which ran over an hour, there was only one song left to sing. As the opening chords for “Live Your Life” rang through Philips Arena, fireworks shot through the air and gold confetti fell from the rafters.