On May 27, the most anticipated hip-hop tour of the summer lands at Blossom Music Center. Rap kingpin Future joins forces with mischievous, trendsetting trio Migos, versatile rapper and singer Tory Lanez, and Haitian-born labelmate Zoey Dollaz for a trap-infused fiesta down in Summit County.
The trio of acts at the top — Future, Migos, and Tory Lanez — cut a wide swath in rap’s collective cultural influence, flourishing into bonafide superstars over the last five years and shining bright in 2017’s limelight.
Hit after hit, chart-topping album after chart-topping album, Grammy nom after Grammy nom, these hip-hop icons have pushed their innovative sounds and styles into the mainstream. Here’s a bit more on the artists carrying rap’s torch to the green hills of Blossom.
Future – The Savvy Vet
The dark shade-rocking, dread-donning Atlantan has blossomed into a full-blown icon since he waded into rap’s waters. As hip-hop matured into its internet-democratized golden age around the turn of the decade, Future revolutionized the way autotune was used in hip-hop, creating a fibrous, gritty vocal overlay rather than mimicking an Eiffel 65/T-Pain /808s-era Kanye vocal jumpiness with the tool. His rich, sensuous warble casts his vocal instrument in a thick, synthetic, purple haze which has influenced the contemporary generation of trappers — check out Travis Scott, doppelgänger Desiigner, or even tour mate Tory Lanez as evidence.
For a searing moment following his second studio album, 2014’s Honest
, Future was truly untouchable. He released a trio of mixtapes — Monster
, Beast Mode
and 56 Nights
— in quick succession from October 2014 to March 2015 following a tumultuous break-up with R&B star Ciara. This set of projects was jam-packed with woozy, intergalactic-influenced, codeine-soaked odes, from the stellar “March Madness” to the luxurious trap sounds of “Fuck Up Some Commas.”
Before fans could catch their breath, Future launched another haymaker with Dirty Sprite 2
, a studio album exploring loss, addiction, depression and indulgence. With highlights including “Thought It Was A Drought,” “Stick Talk” and the Drake-assisted “Where Ya At,” the platinum-selling project landed near the top of end-of-year lists from Rolling Stone
In his season finale, he released the collaborative EP with Drake, What A Time To Be Alive
, outshining the Canadian who was supposedly holding rap’s crown. It was a stunning run, one that cemented Future as a headlining artist, here to stay.
After a subdued 2016, Future jumped back in the driver’s seat with back-to-back album releases this past February — FUTURE
. He became the first artist to have two albums debut at the top of the Billboard charts in consecutive weeks. Boosted by the flute-powered banger “Mask Off,” the Rihanna-assisted “Selfish,” and duo with the Weeknd “Comin Out Strong,” the two albums even had Lebron dancing along with a glass of rosé in a snap.
Migos – The Midas-Touched Family Band
Offset is cousin to Quavo who is uncle to Takeoff. It’s a bit of a convoluted family tree, but the trio is making the most of their genetic gifts, picking up the baton from Future’s “can’t miss” hit streak after a long time simmering in the ranks.
The Migos have been steadily buzzing since their 2013 smash “Versace” rediscovered the power of the triplet flow over booming production. Not unlike the double-time cadence popularized by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and reinvented by A$AP Rocky, the “Migos flow” set into motion a cadenced wave that seeped into the cadences of everyone from Drake to Kanye to Ab-Soul. Their widely acknowledged cultural influence even ignited a fiery and only partly joking “Migos > The Beatles” debate on social media — John Lennon never got a hundred thousand retweets, folks pointed out.
Generating a buzz from mixtape singles like “Fight Night” and “Look At My Dab,” which triggered the worldwide “dabbing” craze, Migos shot into the spotlight in late 2016 with the unexpected smash success of “Bad and Boujee.” The song followed an unusual path that was a microcosm of their own — months of underground rotation and recognition before breaking into pop culture ubiquity. At its peak, fellow Atlantan and creator of FX's Atlanta
, Donald Glover went out of his way to thank the group for the song while accepting the Golden Globe for Best Comedy TV Series.
Charismatic and unequivocally cool, the Migos make Southern-influenced party music that is best consumed at high volume while singing along. Their diverse vocal styles fit trap beats like a glove, and the scene’s top producers — Metro Boomin’ and Zaytoven — rush to collaborate with the trio. With ad-libs (they do them live, too!) ranging from “Cookie!” to “Mama!” to “Taliban!” that have become almost as popular as their lyrics, their live performances are sure to be as satisfying and indulging as a listen through their discography.
Tory Lanez – The Dark Horse
The rapper/singer/jack-of-all-trades who claims Toronto as home is an amalgam of the diverse North American cultural experience. His parents hail from the Caribbean islands of Barbados and Curacao, and after a Canadian childhood, Lanez (born Daystar Patterson) moved with his family to Miami. He lived there until his mother died suddenly when he was twelve, unhinging Lanez on a tumultuous adolescence that saw him kicked out of dozens of schools as he stayed with family in Atlanta, Queens and finally back in Toronto.
He’s snowballed a dedicated core fanbase into mainstream appeal, first gaining real momentum through his breakout mixtape, Lost Cause that spawned rap/sung hits like “Henny in Hand” and “The Mission,” along with loosie releases like the bombastic “Diego.” In 2015, he dropped a unique collaborative EP called Cruel Intentions
with the WeDidIt Collective, a crew of LA-based electronic producers and DJs. It was an unprecedented rap/electronic collaboration, leading to a trappy, industrial collection of jams like “In For It” with RL Grime and “Acting Like” with Shlohmo.
In late 2015, Lanez signed to Interscope’s Mad Love imprint run by pop hitmaker Benny Blanco, the wunderkind crossover producer responsible for chart-topping monster hits like Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and Wiz Khalifa’s “No Sleep.” Lanez quickly scored crossover hits “Say It” and eventually “LUV,” which led to the artist’s first Grammy nomination this year.
With a Future-esque flow that borrows from Atlanta trap, brooding Toronto angst and even dancehall, Tory’s live shows explode with an energetic performances noted for crowd-walking and chandelier-swinging. Expect him to bring his A-game and a big bag of tricks to rock Blossom’s stage.
Future: Nobody Safe Tour, 7 p.m. Saturday, May 27, Blossom, 1145 West Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 330-920-8040. Tickets: $52.60-$89.50, livenation.com.