‘Greatest Homecoming On Earth’ back again

by Eric Ginsburg

I would never pass up an opportunity to listen to Young Jeezy’s music with him, but that was not what we had come for. By the time the headlining act took the stage on Oct. 27, the crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum had thinned dramatically, and as the Atlanta rap star waded through his set, energy remained low.

This is supposed to be the “Greatest Homecoming On Earth,” so maybe it would have been possible to predict Young Jeezy’s remark in the middle of his set.

“I didn’t come here to work, I came here to party,” he said. That much was clear, as he occasionally rapped parts of the choruses to his hits but primarily served as his own hype man, spending most his time running around the stage and exhorting the audience to put their hands up. In the background, he could be heard singing the words from the recording studio on a track.

I would expect as much from someone like Yelawolf, who is known for his anthem “I Just Wanna Party,” but a veteran like Young Jeezy just looked tired, inexperienced or both. Maybe it was the three-hour wait or the fact that he was my favorite artist on the bill, but his set was a disappointing culmination of an otherwise impressive show. The night peaked several times, rising and falling with the crowd’s enthusiasm and the performers’ dynamism, especially when 2 Chainz and Trey Songz were center stage.

First famous as a member of Playaz Circle — known for the hit “Duffle Bag Boy,” which he performed at homecoming — 2 Chainz had to miss his slot at SuperJam earlier this year and was a late addition to last week’s gig. Unless you were there to drool over Trey Songz as he slowly peeled off his clothes or prefer R&B to rap, 2 Chainz was the man of the night.

Performing with DJ E. Sudd, who is from High Point, the rapper lit up the crowd with recent hits he’s been a part of like Juicy J’s “Bands A Make Her Dance” his collaboration with Kanye West on “Birthday Song,” and his own “Riot.”

Like Trey Songz would do in the following set, 2 Chainz stopped to point out various women in the audience, calling them out by their outfits before saying all he really cared about was a “super freak,” and then launching into Young Jeezy’s song —which he is featured on — by the same name.

“Hands up ladies if you feel like you’re sexy or whatever,” he said.

Unbuttoning his jacket to expose an Aggies sweatshirt, 2 Chainz later threw the hoodie into the crowd, stripping off layers like all the other male performers of the evening, but none as sensually as Trey Songz. The clear heartthrob of the event, the R&B artist started with his more sensual jams before moving into the energetic hits, driving plenty of female audience members crazy as he talked about getting them wet and rubbed his sweatsoaked T-shirt all over himself.

“Does anybody want my shirt?” he sang. Trey Songz was one of the few artists at homecoming to be backed by a band, though opener Elle Varner even played an acoustic guitar along with her backup for one song, but Trey Songz was the only one with a drummer and a full kit. During “Neighbors Know My Name,” his guitarist even launched into a solo, but the overall song quality was higher earlier in his performance where the vocals were more prominent and the band remained in the background.

“Y’all have a great school, and Greensboro is a great town but I only came here for two reasons: ladies and the drinks,” Trey Songz said. After finishing “2 Reasons,” his last song of the night, the artist exhorted the crowd to vote before walking offstage. “Please make my president the president for four more years.”

Trey Songz and Elle Varner sounded better live than on record, likely because the two were the most talented singers present, but Big Sean was the most animated and 2 Chainz seemed to be having the most fun, showing off his signature dance moves that appear comedic in the “Birthday Song” video but which he told the crowd is the Atlanta style.

Besides Young Jeezy’s uninspired act, the most disappointing part of the show was the lack of collaboration between artists, several of whom performed the same songs during their sets to highlight the respective verses on tracks like Kanye West’s “Mercy,” “Super Freak” and “Bands A Make Her Dance.” Each artist knew who they would be sharing the bill with, so why not agree who would take which shared hit or come back out and tag-team the track?