Compton rapper Problem brought his Separation Tour back home to the city of Angels on December 4 and made a huge statement on his status and where his career is heading. “Diamond Lane n*ggas is a different caliber than a lot of these n*ggas out here and we are going to set that sh*t straight tonight,” proclaimed Problem after he brought out West Coast legend Too $hort, the first of many surprise guests. With a wall to wall capacity at The El Rey Theater, a young and diverse crowd with people coming in as far as Bakersfield, “turned up” with excitement that went against the longstanding notion about Southern California crowds being “too chill” at events. Hosted by DJ Amen and Abby De La Rosa (she’s a cutie by the way) of Young California, The Separation Tour (named after Problem’s latest mixtape hosted by DJ Drama) started off with Bay Area veteran Clyde Carson who capped off his set with his most popular cut, “Slow Down,” which still gets radio play even after 2 years.
The night just didn’t belong to Problem. Young South Central L.A. crooner Tee Flii is a name that you need to remember because this kid is going to make waves in the future. Performing his popular DJ Mustard produced tracks from his AnnieRUO’Tay project and, Tee Flii had all of the young ladies in the palms of his hands, singing word for word, and screaming at the top of their lungs. Nipsey Hussle joined the youngster on stage as the two performed some of their recent collaborations. After Tee Flii’s performance, a young girl next to me told me that she was already starting to lose her voice and she didn’t know how she was going to be able to perform at work the next morning. Her voice seemed to have held up through the night because I continued to hear those ear-piercing screams – especially when Problem took the stage.
Once considered just a mixtape rapper from Compton, Problem has really grown in to his own and is utilizing the potential that’s always been there. I know because I was given his original demo several years back when he was just a producer trying to make beats and I’ve seen the ups and downs of his career. After his single deal with Univeral Republic for 2008’s “Toe Up” was complete and the single didn’t take off as hoped, Problem went back to the drawing board and re-vamped his team and his sound over a period of time. The results have been outstanding because when he took the stage at the El Rey Theater that night, you could feel that a statement was going to be made with this show. His manager Pun had even given me a heads up earlier to be ready for some surprises.
After opening with some tracks from The Separation, Problem’s first surprise was Oakland’s own Too $hort, the Godfather of all Pimps on the Mic – but that was just the beginning. R & B singer Tank joined in on the action when Problem brought a pretty young lady from the crowd on to the stage and surprised her with personal serenades. At this point another young female nearby began shouting out “oral” favors to Problem whenever he came near our section of the stage. Others joined in, although not as explicit. Girls throwing themselves at you is a sign that you are having a hell of a performance.
Surprise 3 and 4, turned out to be The Game and Tyga, as the YMCMB labelmates came out to rock the crowd and voice their support for their Compton brother. I figured that was going to be it for the surprises and I was kind of glad too because my camera started to let me know that it was going to sleep very soon from all of the footage and pictures from the night. Surely enough as my camera was telling me goodnight, Problem brings out the last huge surprise – none other than T.I. I should have known this was coming especially since Problem has been sharing pictures on social media about working with Tip, including a session not too long ago with Dr. Dre. Thankfully there were others around me kind enough to share their photos with me and of course other video clips taped (Internets to the rescue).
Overall it was an incredible night and I believe we’re seeing the new birthing of a King out here in Los Angeles. After all, there aren’t many that could pull off this kind of a feat. Problem has seen great success this year with his “Like Whaat” single and will be debuting a new one on 106 & Park this upcoming December 10. If he’s going to be the next King of L.A., he’s going to need another hit, so we will see how this new single does. If it does indeed take off as he hopes, watch out, because right now the dude is on fire.
I can’t forget Bad Lucc. The fellow Diamond Lane artist really did his thing that night too as part of the show. I see you Lucc.
Check out our exclusive coverage of the night. Shout out to Montze Rodriguez for coming through with the T.I. shots and @99point1percent for the video clip.