Similar to their cheesesteaks; hip-hop and Philadelphia are two things that have always meshed. Maybe it’s because of the passion that Philly natives tend to have. Or maybe it’s the energy that can be felt the moment you hit South St. or any other iconic area in the city. And if it’s neither of those two, than it’s the overall charisma this historical town has to offer. Passion, energy, and charisma, those characteristics are the heart and soul of hip-hop. You must be passionate about your craft; you must have the energy to always work hard; and you have to be charismatic in order to inspire and motivate your fans.
During the Philadelphia Pack Night, those three key factors were all brought to the forefront in their own special ways. Headlined by Machine Gun Kelly, with support from Chill Moody, Shawn Smith and Iman, this incredible city served as host to an unforgettable, sold-out Pack Night for the Swisher Sweets Artist Project.
It all started well before the doors opened at the Theatre of the Living Arts (TLA) where each of the four performers were busy conducting interviews and doing carefully-detailed sound checks. Despite it being a bit humid and hot outside, that didn’t stop the 150+ die-hard fans from lining up outside the venue hours before the show would start. Talk about a commitment. There were even fans asking to buy last-minute tickets on the street!
Draped in a familiar attire of no shirt, tattoo clad chest and some jazzy checkered pants, MGK and his band were going over every minor detail of his entire set to make sure that things ran smoothly and each melody sounded the best it possibly could. The entire MGK conglomerate moves as a unit and not only was that noticeable during the sound check, but especially when midnight struck and the Cleveland star took the stage.
Passion, energy and charisma. Those words describe what Machine Gun Kelly brings to the table. Those words describe Machine Gun Kelly’s fanbase. Those words describe what Machine Gun Kelly represents. From the moment he touched the stage, to the minute he said goodbye, it felt like the TLA was a movie theatre and Kellz was the director. He brought out every emotion in his die-hard fanbase. There were multiple mosh pits forming. There were day-one supporters rapping every word to every song. There were at least 5 people in the very front row crying as he performed his heartfelt ballads. And best of all, there was a (sold-out) venue full of happy, excited fans having the time of their life. From his classic hits like “Wild Boy” to an unreleased track he says was recorded just a couple days ago, MGK’s performance reminded everyone why he’s so vital to this industry and why what he does with his art is truly unlike many others.
While MGK may have been the featured performance, don’t get it confused — the emerging acts Chill Moody, Shawn Smith and Iman each set the tone in their own way. Iman was first up and brought his NY swag to the City of Brotherly Love. Throughout his entire set, Iman repeatedly acknowledged how blessed he felt to be there and how much he appreciated anyone willing to give him a chance. There’s that passion again. As far as energy is concerned, not only did Iman dish it out, but the fans gave it back tenfold. Whether it was a “left side vs right side” noise battle, or the crowd chanting along to the chorus of “Pay For It,” there wasn’t once a dull moment. Charisma is when you have the ability to capture fans’ attention and give them some type of feeling they won’t forget. Let’s just say, Iman left with a batch of new fans after this event.
Following Iman was the lyrical monster Shawn Smith, who came to the stage in a bulletproof vest over a white-tee, with a fly Louis Vuitton belt around his jeans, and a fresh pair of kicks to top it off. Shawn was ready to do what he does best: RAP. When a Shawn Smith track begins, it’s best to pay as much attention as possible, because otherwise his thoughtful wordplay will likely go over your head. Giving fans a run-down of old and new songs including his “Mask Off” remix and a fan-favorite “Heaven,” Shawn made every minute count. During his pre-show interviews, Shawn says he’s got a few surprises up his sleeve coming soon, and also said that sooner rather than later, the world will know just exactly who Shawn Smith is. It’s hard to not agree.
Accolades are important in hip-hop and the third and final emerging act Chill Moody knows a thing or two about resume-builders. Named the “Best Rapper in Philly” by Philadelphia Magazine, and appointed as the Philadelphia Music Ambassador, Chill’s impact on his city and on the industry as a whole is truly remarkable. Going back to the passion, energy and charisma, Chill’s got it all and then some. Having been in the game for quite a while now, Chill knows what it takes to appease his fan base and he does so every time he performs or drops off some new music. The young veteran is wise beyond his years and his intelligence and overall desire to succeed is why he’s been able to maintain such a fruitful career for as long as he has. His Pack Night performance was just another reminder of that.
Philadelphia came out in full force for what will go down as one of the most memorable Pack Night events. The next stop on the 2018 Tour will be Atlanta on September 22nd when Gucci Mane, Kelechi, Q Money and Lil Freaky take over the Buckhead Theatre. Visit AtlantaPackNight.com for tickets and more information.