Concertgoers clustered together in a mass of sweat and spilled drinks at High Dive Friday night as they swayed and jumped to the lyrical refrains of Maryland rapper YBN Cordae.
“Our stage is particularly high in demand for up and coming hip hop artists like YBN,” said Pat Lavery, who oversees booking at High Dive, in an email.
Some people traveled long distances to see the Grammy-nominated artist YBN Cordae and openers Big Win and 24kGoldn. MyQueal Lewis, a 21-year-old Florida A&M University social work student, traveled two hours from Tallahassee.
Lewis said he appreciates that YBN Cordae stays true to himself and has genuine collaborations with other artists.
“You gotta respect people that do stuff like that in the rap game,” Lewis said.
When asked how he met YBN Cordae, 21-year-old Ean Rutledge, who sold merchandise at the show, said they used to ditch school to get Chick-Fil-A. Their go-to meal was the chicken sandwich.
“We was already close, but that’s when we kicked it off,” he said.
Gainesville native Casey Jones II opened the show around 9 p.m. He is a part of Dion Dia Records and said he has been rapping for around a year now. However, he said he has been writing love poems since fifth grade.
Local rapper Big Win performed followed by Lonr., who pumped up the crowd with his single “Safe Zone” and by crowd surfing.
24kGoldn took the energy even higher. He crowd surfed and at one point, a bra was thrown onto the stage. He performed several of his songs, including “CITY OF ANGELS,” “GAMES ON YOUR PHONE” and “VALENTINO.”
A sea of phones recorded YBN Cordae during his entrance and first song, “Wintertime.”
YBN Cordae paused in his set to tell the crowd he was going to perform Juice WRLD’s hit “Lucid Dreams” to honor his memory. YBN Cordae’s first tour was with Juice WRLD, and he ended the song with, “I won’t let you forget him.”
The crowd stayed hype throughout the set. He performed several of his songs and even brought up someone from the crowd to help him sing “RNP” a second time through.
“I thought it was perfect.” Will Goodman, an 18-year-old from Ocala, said. “I thought the opening acts were great, it led up (to) it. Each act got better and better and then he stole the show, man. It was fantastic.”
The show ended around 12:30 a.m. A large part of the crowd stayed after to take advantage of their VIP packages, which included taking a picture with Cordae and a commemorative laminate that folded into a milk carton with the words “Lost Boy” on it.
Rutledge said he was not surprised Cordae made it this far in his career.
“He worked for it, and it’s all paying off,” Rutledge said.
Contact Lauren Witte at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @Lauren_Witte.