A$AP Ferg at 170 Russell, Melbourne, September 23, 2016

170 Russell hosted hip hop royalty Friday night as the Trap Lord himself, A$AP Ferg, took Melbourne to a new level.

In town for Listen Out Festival in support of his new album Always Strive And Prosper, Harlem rapper A$AP Ferg made a headline show pitstop and cemented his place in my mind as one of the most enigmatic hip hop acts touring today.

Like any good rap show, you have to warm the punters up before the top billers come out. Ferg’s DJ TJ Mizell did that better than most. The party vibes were so high at one point I forgot we were at a show; it felt we had been transported to the most lit club in NYC until somebody walked past me in a triple j legionnaires hat.

When the Hood Pope finally met the stage, he hit it like the bulls of Pamplona; his take-no-prisoners presence was matched only by the energy of the crowd – having toured Australia for four consecutive years, there is a clear connection between Ferg and his Aussie fans. Opening party starters F-ck Out My Face and Dump Dump were followed by a moment of pause in recognition to the patriarch of A$AP Mob, A$AP Yams, who recently passed.

Soon after, the ball of energy that is Marty Baller – Ferg’s tour buddy and right-hand man – joined him on stage. On his hype man appeared, Ferg’s performance was electric – during Hungry Ham and Strive, the two bounced off each other like a couple of kids on stage for the first time.

Fergie then put out a challenge to anyone who wanted to freestyle against him. The outcome? Let’s just say there’s a reason he is on stage and we are in the crowd, although it was the closest I’ve ever been to an 8 Mile battle, and that’s really all I’ve ever wanted to see at a hip hop show.

Rounding out the bursting set was New Level, Let It Bang and Shabba, leaving no doubt in my mind that there would be no encore – and it was kinda refreshing that he didn’t, although if anyone has earned one in the recent shows I’ve attended, it was certainly Our Trap Lord.

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