As I stepped into LA’s historic El Rey Theatre, Casey Veggies was in the midst of his sound check and stood atop a stage illuminated with a neon pinup girl, palm trees and seagulls. Outside, several college kids and high schoolers stood in camo, OF gear and Supreme hats as Anwar “Carrots” Taj Washington, Joshton Peas and other members of Casey’s Peas and Carrots clothing line set up shop inside.
Camera crews prepped backstage while IllRoots’ DJ Chase B and I joked about how the venue’s musical selection (which included Tupac’s “Brenda’s Got A Baby”) were probably lulling the show goers to sleep with its infamous, bleak lyrics.
Sir Michael Rocks and his crew arrived on a mission for liquor and kush before he livened the theatre opening with an energetic performance of “If It Ain’t Foreign” followed by tracks from While You Wait... donned in drop-crotch pants, a kimono, bamboo necklace and white loafers.
In between sets, I spotted Tyler, the Creator and expressed how much I was looking forward to his upcoming show with Kid Cudi and Earl’s new album, Doris. We exchanged high fives as a small pack of people zoomed by with security guards. I spotted Sean Kingston, Schoolboy Q and got a quick glimpse of a guy in a black hoodie who resembled Kanye West.
“Nah,” I thought to myself and quickly shrugged off the notion. Chase B opened his set with Big Sean’s new cut “Fire” before Travi$ Scott hit the stage performing “Hell Of A Night,” “Blocka” and Cruel Summer’s “Sin City” in an HBA x Been Trill shirt. After a few songs, he announced a mentor of his was in the building and ordered hands to be placed in the air as the lights cut. As the “New Slaves” beat dropped, the audience erupted with excitement as Kanye sprinted out in a black hoodie screaming the lyrics. The audience wailed with disbelief as the recluse basked in the limelight while Travi$ leapt into the sea of people.
I stood there shocked doing double takes while witnessing the utterly surreal experience. After Yeezy delivered one of the self-proclaimed greatest Rap verses of all time, I walked up to him and spewed out compliments about Yeezus, and he smiled as I congratulated him on his newborn daughter in some sort of strange, out-of-body experience while his smile grew wider and wider. I asked him for a photo and was happily surprised when he immediately replied with a nonchalant, “Yeah, take it.” Without hesitation, he proceeded to take more fan photos as I overheard him announce, “I don't smile in pictures.”
In a daze, I walked back to my spot near Tyler and told him how badly I “stanned” out. He grinned and said he acted the same way when he initially met West, but explained they’re now good friends. Moments later, Kanye walked over, and Tyler commented on how badly ‘Ye upstaged him.
“I thought they were gonna be excited to see me until you showed up!” he exclaimed. The two laughed frequently during their lighthearted conversation until ‘Ye made his exit after Travi$’ set.
Around 11 pm, a roaring crowd greeted headliner Casey Veggies as he walked out in a red, plaid shirt, sagging skinny jeans and a sweatband to perform “Life Changes,” “Toe Tag,” “Whip It” and various other songs from his catalog. Dom Kennedy later joined him for “CDC” and “She in My Car.”
When Tyler was summoned to join Casey on stage, he appeared surprised, but showed love to his supporters by waving and slapping hands during “DTA.”
“I had no idea they were gonna call me up,” he said laughing when he returned. ScHoolboy Q performed “Yay Yay,” as the crowd chanted along to his every “Yawk,” and Travi$ Scott reappeared for “Up.” Ace Hood’s “Bugatti” and Problem’s “Like Whaaat” played at ignorant levels, and Sean Kingston topped off the memorable show with “Beat It.”
As the curtains and tour came to a close, Casey beamed as he sat beside the DJ booth while cameras circled in. Supporters congratulated him with daps and commented on how blessed he was to have the support of the almighty Yeezus.
“He doesn't just show up for anybody,” someone stated as “Young Veggies” gave a knowing smile that he was definitely on the verge of enduring many more life changes.
*Special thanks to @DANNYLEEWORKS of Calico Works for the invite and backstage access.
Los Angeles native Andrea Aguilar has always had a strong passion for Hip Hop and journalism. In 2007, she received a BA in Communications - Entertainment Studies with a Minor in Radio/TV/Film from Cal State Fullerton and worked for Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records. She is the writer and creator of beautifulstruggles.com and has contributed to Urban print publications TRUE and DOPE Magazine. Her articles include feature and cover stories on Hip Hop artists, actors and professional athletes. She has interviewed renowned artists like Pusha T, Game, Big Sean and Tyga. You can follow her on Twitter @andrea3stacks.