Lil Baby’s Back Outside Tour brought a variety of Hip-Hop fandoms to the Staples Center in Los Angeles last month (Sept. 24). The 23-city, cross-country trek features the Atlanta-bred rapper as the headliner and includes Lil Durk, Coi Leray, Rylo Rodriguez, and Bankroll Freddie. The young acts grouped together and engaged audiences in an energetic showdown of drip and determination.
The phrase “back outside” has been used throughout the summer as people rushed to return to pre-COVID activities following a year without in-person concerts. As the pandemic continues, venues have implemented measures to hopefully prevent the spread of the coronavirus. At the Staples Center, ticket holders were required to show vaccination cards or a negative COVID-19 test and instructed to wear masks in the arena unless eating or drinking.
Once inside, a portion of fans remained masked up; however, the majority of the audience took the concert’s name to heart. People danced in the aisles and screamed their favorite lyrics, sharing drinks and vape pens. As cliques of teenagers and chaperones combated influencers and intimate dates for prime Instagrammable views of the stage, each billed artist catered directly to their fans.
Coi Leray, one of the tour’s opening acts, proved to be a crowd favorite as several groups of fans vocalized high praise for the rising artist’s carefree attitude as she danced across the stage. The 24-year-old performed her trending hits including “BIG PURR,” and the latest drop, “TWINNEM.” As she exited the stage Coi Leray promised fans that her “haters” do not hinder her grind to the top, as she flexed on a BET Hip-Hop Award nomination for Best New Artist.
Lil Durk shined on stage in multiple chains, an iced-out wrist piece, and a solid plain t-shirt, joined by his Only The Family (OTF) peers Doodie Lo and Booka600. They shared the stage, and at one point Lil Durk left to change. An audience with pockets of Chicago natives held OTF mercy in the air as they rapped along to the menacing lyrics of “Back In Blood,” “Turkey Season,” “When We Shoot,” and more. Coi Leray also returned to the stage for a performance of their collaboration “No More Parties,” which peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Accompanied by a live band, The Voice made sure to dedicate a moment of his set time to the late rapper King Von. There was a brief, somber moment of silence lit by cell phone lights swaying side to side through the venue.
Once Durk finished his set, the audience patiently awaited the headlining act until 10 minutes turned into 30. The crowd began to eagerly chant “Baby” for the Grammy award-nominated rapper to deliver his fast-flowing hits. After a slightly delayed entrance, Lil Baby finally appeared onstage, atop an elevated platform, woken up from an air-mattress nap by his backup dancers. The rapper included the dancers in choreographed routines performed to his songs including “Drip Too Hard,” where he was shuffled across the stage by the ladies on a garment rack while eager fans proud of their own drip sang along, recording the moment on Instagram stories.
As he performed “Get Money” the dancers gathered up loose cash on stage, placing it in a backpack. Lil Baby then searched the sea of his admirers for his “most lit” fan, inviting a young woman on stage to pick a bag and walk away with the money inside. Although she chose the wrong bookbag, she was still given a prize from the rapper who identified the sack that held the cash. The rest of Lil Baby’s gifts were shared among all attendees in the form of guest performers who added variety to the show’s setlist.
The 26-year-old rapper invited Detroit rapper 42 Dugg on stage for a performance of their street-favorite, “We Paid.” 42 Dugg verified himself to be a great investment of both Lil Baby and Yo Gotti as the rising artist boasts a joint deal from both 4 Pockets Full and Collective Music Group. After asking the arena’s permission, which of course resulted in an uproar of agreement and demands for the Chicago artist to return, Lil Durk returned and the duo treated fans to songs from their collaborative project, The Voice Of The Heroes.
Released in June, their joint album debuted at No. 1 on the US 200 chart, becoming Durkio’s first No. 1 album, and Baby’s second. Together, it established the pair as two of the new generation’s leading voices in Hip-Hop, joining the south and the midwest against rap’s coastal biases. \Lil Durk is on track to have the most Billboard Hot 100 Rap Hits of the year, closely followed by Lil Baby. In fact, the only artist joining the combative duo in the top three ranking as of September was Drake.
After being joined by Durk, Lil Baby flexed his high-profile contact list and invited his music industry peers to the delightful surprise of the crowd. Roddy Ricch performed his Grammy award-nominated hit, “The Box,” for his hometown. R&B veteran Chris Brown danced across the stage, performing his Young Thug-assisted “Go Crazy,” as screams of shock and audible “Oh, my God’s” rang around the arena. Arguably the biggest marvel of the league of guest artists who joined Lil Baby, however, was Nicki Minaj’s surprise appearance.
Appearing on stage for the first time since giving birth in September 2020, the Queens rapper performed her verse from “Seeing Green” (also featuring Drake and Lil Wayne) and asked for crowd participation to handle BIA’s portion “Whole Lotta Money” remix. An astonished crowd looked on as her purple hair flowed across the front of the stage with her husband Kenneth Petty holding their child not too far behind. Her presence was met with a warm welcome by in-house Barbs who screamed in disbelief.
In the days before the show, Minaj had caused international controversy with a tweet about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. She and her husband were also formally served with a lawsuit from Jennifer Hough, Petty’s rape victim, who spoke publicly for the first time on her accusations of harassment and intimidation at their hands, also just days before Minaj’s popup.
Through it all, the “Did It On Em” rapper’s blinders kept her focus on performing and interacting with in-house Barbs who screamed as their Queen stood in the spotlight. She thanked Lil Baby and his team for welcoming her back to the stage before exiting as the concert neared its end.
Patrons speculated about more special guests but doubted Lil Baby would be able to top the “Barbie Dreams” rapper’s strut. This stunt was confirmed as the biggest once the Quality Control signee began to thank the thousands of fans for attending as they scurried towards the nearest exit.
Sharing Nicki the Ninja’s mindset, the live showing proved to be a method of escapism from the outside world, as concerts usually are. Declaring a post-pandemic environment, each rapper took the stage bragging of their wealth, flashing gaudy diamonds and disregarding troubling allegations, in front of a largely unmasked and non-socially-distanced audience to its full enjoyment.
Overall, the Back Outside Tour lived up to its name. The three hours spent in the Staples Center provided a fun night celebrating rising and established Hip-Hop acts from various regions. From Coi Leray’s energetic twerk moves to Lil Baby’s literal fiery set design, each artist’s allure is individuality and the ability to make their music—although sometimes harsh in subject—fun.