1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
  2. “I realized I was a lifelong sufferer of FOMO”

Urban dictionary definition: The fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something great.

My definition: DON’T MISS THE EVENT.

Luckily, I’m here to provide you with all things you’ve missed, in this popping city of Los Angeles. My name is Shirley Ju, and I live, breathe, sleep Hip Hop. Coming from the Bay, I grew up to the hyphy movement. That being said, turning up is all I know. This will be a weekly recap of the dope events that I myself felt like I couldn’t miss, and you guys wish you were at.

The Game performing at The NOVO in downtown Los Angeles on his 1992: Block Wars Tour.

Wednesday, August 31

If you guys know The Game, you know he puts on for his hometown of Los Angeles. A month ago, he announced his 1992: Block Wars Tour, which in my opinion, was not promoted as well as it should have been.

This tour kills two birds with one stone, promoting his upcoming 1992 album as well as the mobile game Block Wars, which he recently became a brand ambassador for.

The Game rocking the Cali crowd in New York Knicks colors. Go figure.

I want to take note of Game’s outfit real quick. Last time I saw him perform was at the same venue on my birthday, January 9. He was rocking a snapback with a jean jacket and tight jeans, reminding me of Chris Brown. This time, he sported an orange shirt matched with color block shorts that had zebra printed pockets on the posterior. It had me wondering who his stylist was.

I was able to get real close and personal in the photo pit for a couple tracks. Possibly a little too close. He hit the stage a little after 11pm, with openers that nobody had heard of. My guess: struggle rappers trying to get some shine opening for The Game. His set lasted for almost an hour and a half.

By no means do I have intentions of writing anything negative, as The Game is one of my favorite MCs. Ever since The Documentary(wow it was released in 2005), he has had a special place in my heart. I’ve also interviewed him a couple times, and he has always been real open to sharing.

However, this show left us extremely underwhelmed. In fact, my girl was actually angry. She complained he kept doing tracks that weren’t his. While they are legendary throwbacks such as “Regulate” by Warren G and Nate Dogg, she had a point. Of course, it’s always wonderful for any artist to put on for his city and pay tribute to Nate, but he did dedicate a good amount of time just dropping the hits … that he’s not featured on.

The energy was there on select tracks, especially “El Chapo.” By nature, he performed his hit singles “Hate It Or Love It,” “How We Do,” and “My Life” featuring Lil Wayne. During his performance of “Westside Story,” I embarrassingly screamed “Asians” during his opening line “Crip niggas, Blood niggas, S.A.’s, Asians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, White Boys, Jamaicans.” Always appreciate a shout out to my people.

Ty Dolla $ign gracing the stage in a tall leopard coat.

Again, it’s Los Angeles. It’s pretty much expected for surprise guests to show up. First up, the homie Ty Dolla $ign. He literally shows up at every show in the city — not that it’s a bad thing. Recently, Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg brought him out at The High Road Tour in Irvine, CA. He played his hit single “Blasé,” during his cameo appearance, because how he could he not?

Ty rocked a floor-length leopard printed coat. Being a fashion guru myself, I fucked with it.

Next on the roster, AD from Compton. He instantly brought the heat by running out to “Juice,” which The Game is on the remix of. And then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. If you are not familiar, The Game is known to down a fifth of alcohol at every show. I repeat, every show. And I’ve seen this with my own two eyes.

Sources say it’s fake, due to the mere fact of his health being compromised. But I beg to differ. To me, Game is a thug. And thugs aren’t fake. It’s a contradiction. The only way to prove me wrong is to hand me the bottle and let me take a sip. I actually haven’t had alcohol in four years, so I am putting my life on the line. The stakes are high.

Is it water or vodka? We need concrete evidence. Shout out to AD joining in on the madness. He is now under speculation as well.

I just scrolled my entire camera roll to try to find the still I took of O.T. Genasis and The Game but failed. So yes, O.T. was the next surprise. I wanted to showcase his tight camo shirt and extremely white pants, which you can kind of see off to the left in this post. “Cut it, cut it, cut it, cut it.” I haven’t met a single person who dislikes this track. He proceeded to perform “Push It,” his follow-up single that also doesn’t disappoint.

All in all, I thought the show could have been much better. There were many hiccups, such as O.T.’s microphone not working, the DJ not being prepared for the next track, the production of the stage, etc. For how long The Game has been in the game (no pun intended), which he proudly announced at the show as 12 years, the bar is raised a little bit higher.
It might be a different outlook from his perspective though, as this is just another show. Another day, another dollar. We were really sad because he didn’t play his latest single “All Eyez” featuring Jeremih. I actually really like his verse on that one.

Ja Rule performing at The NOVO in Downtown LA.

Thursday, September 1

Holy shit, this night was magical. It literally was so great. Ja Rule and Ashanti co-headlining The NOVO in Downtown Los Angeles. Yes, they’re on tour again. And yes, we’re down. I caught them on their initial tour, at the same exact venue a few months back. If you love R&B, specifically old school, feel-good, nostalgic R&B, you need to catch these two live. It will have you wondering where they’ve been this entire time.

The moment they announced they were going back on tour, they had the streets talking. I wouldn’t be surprised if they sold out each show. Literally, Los Angeles tonight was PACKED. Shout out to Mel at 92.3 for hooking me up with a ticket. It was literally 3x as crowded as The Game the night prior. And the crowd was diverse as could be. I thought that was amazing. Their music is universal. Everyone was singing along.

Ja Rule paying tribute to Tupac.

When I pulled up, the show had already started. Ja Rule and Ashanti initially switch off and then come out together at the end to play their smash hits. Ja Rule is a real one. He dedicated a good portion of his set paying tribute to the greats who had passed. Being from New York, you know he had to have Biggie on the big screen. Being into Hip Hop, you know he had to include Tupac. RIP.

Ashanti blesses the stage in a sheer, black body suit and plenty of curves.

Ashanti is bae. The best part: she is even more beautiful in person. Her hair was perfect, makeup flawless, outfit bangin’. One of those artists that just naturally have amazing stage presence. Oh, and baby got back. Her all black skintight bodysuit definitely accentuated her assets. The booty is real too. She had everybody up in that venue tonight staring, including the girls.

The best part of the night was when Ashanti surprised everyone in the building by bringing Lloyd on stage. No one was expecting any surprise guests. Together, they performed “Southside,” probably one of the most romantic throwback R&B tracks to this day. P.S., did we ever catch on how dirty the “eating on the low” line was back then? Ha.

Ashanti brings out Lloyd to perform “Southside.”

She had her back turned to me the entire song (sorry not sorry). I also thought it was cute Lloyd was wearing a Nirvana shirt. He recently returned from what seemed like a forever-long hiatus, and dropped a new track titled “Tru.” I always loved Lloyd and thought his voice was so unique. It couldn’t be more fitting to bring him out at the show. At that point, we all mutually agreed this just completely shit on their last show.

At every show, Ashanti chooses random males from the crowd and brings them on stage. Because she can. The crowd always eats it up. With some assistance from her two gorgeous backup dancers, all three ladies blindfold the men, as they sit patiently in their chairs in the middle of the stage, awaiting their dream come true.

Have you ever look back on your Snap story and be like, “damn where’d that sound go?” Yeah. It happened to me. But anyways. The lucky contestant in the middle was beyond excited. He was like a little kid about to get his hard-earned ice cream cone at the end of a hot sunny day. He was literally about to jump out of his seat, smiling ear-to-ear.

A free lap dance from Ashanti? Not too shabby for a Thursday night.

Soulja Boy rocking all white everything.

Another epic but extremely random surprise for the night. “Soulja Boy up in this hoe, watch me crank it, watch me roll!” My girl flipped her shit, which got me SO excited. I always say, your company matters. For example, if you go to a movie and your friend absolutely hates it, you’re most likely influenced to hate it as well.

That being said, I absolutely adore when people get excited over artists. That’s the whole point of seeing them live. We literally had a ball doing the “Crank That” dance. High school nostalgia. “Turn My Swag On” literally was my anthem, which he played next. He showed up in all white, blinged out per usual.

Ja Rule and Ashanti closed out their show playing their two greatest hits, “Baby” and “Always on Time.” Thank you for a night to remember.

White awaiting an encore that never happened, Ashanti announced that if you enter her name for the Lyft promo code, you get a free ride. Amazing … until you realize it’s for first-time riders, disqualifying 90% of the people.

Saturday, September 3

Cukui Music Festival line-up at Great America in Santa Clara, CA.

Hello Bay Area! It feels so good to be home. I’m from Sunnyvale, which is by San Jose. Everyone always thinks I’m from SF, but negative. I’m definitely from the suburbs. But don’t underestimate us. We get hyphy.

My homegirl hit me about this event when I told her I was coming home for Labor Day. She’s heavy into reggae, which I am starting to see why. It’s a genre of music that just exudes nothing but good energy and good vibes. In addition to the excitement over Iamsu! and J. Boog on the line-up, this was held at my go-to theme park all throughout high school. Great America, we meet in again. I was definitely a proud season passes holder.

Timeout. I have never seen the new Levi’s Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers and also home to the last Super Bowl. I think everyone in The Bay can be proud for this moment. Hosting the NFL Super Bowl is something to brag about. And this was my first time seeing it in the flesh. The next move will be to attend an event there (#FOMO).

Photo pass for Cukui Music Festival.

If you guys only knew the struggle to actually get into the festival. I was guaranteed two photo passes, both under my name. I was given only one, and one GA ticket. This lead to over an hour and half of back and forth jibber jabber with the staff at Guest Services. Honestly, it was a hot mess.

And this happens way too often than not. As amazing as it is to be granted media passes for an event or show, there are always hiccups. I just want to shed light on the fact that it’s not all peaches and rainbows on this side. You deal with A LOT of miscommunication, and people without the answers. Great America kept saying they had no power to help us, while the festival was inside their park. Ridiculous.

I’m not the most patient in the bunch. And I felt myself starting to lose my cool. I just wanted to catch Su’s set before 7:30pm. I love him and HBK Gang, a lot.

Cukui Music Festival held inside the Redwood Amphitheater.

And I did. Shout out to Aile who came to walk us in. I asked what he did for the festival and he goes, “I’m Cukui.” (Boss, haha!) We were with the brains behind the operation. He felt bad, but he said it wasn’t the first time it happened today. Apparently, they messed up distributing the passes. It’s like that saying, “you had one job…”

Tribal Seeds performing at Cukui Music Festival.

All was well in the end. He gave us all access passes so we could roam backstage and in the photo pit. Here’s Tribal Seeds, a reggae band from San Diego, from the back. (Look how long this dude’s dreads are!)

We decided to walk the perimeter of the campgrounds and checked out all the vendors lined up on the outskirts. It wasn’t until we walked in from the back that we realized this shit was not crowded at all. Oh, by the way, tickets were insanely expensive. It was $85 for general admission to the park and the festival, with the festival being $60 alone. Perhaps that had something to do with it…

Apparently, this is their first year doing it.

Iamsu! hitting the stage with his DJ Azure.

HBK Gang! It’s lit. I love Iamsu! He was one of my first in-person interviews at Rock The Bells in SoCal a solid four years ago. I always say he has so much potential. I think he puts out really good music. The crowd was excited for him, and vice versa.

What I love about being in The Bay, is how much they play bay music. I’m talking doing the “Thizzle Dance” to Mac Dre in between sets. I’m definitely deprived that in Los Angeles. Nothing gets me more lit than Bay slaps.

Here’s a prime example. This is what you call Bay shit. Shout to Iamsu! for the RT. He played all his bangers, including “Backflip” featuring Casey Veggies and YG. Love when the bay collabs with LA. He also dropped “Get Rich,” Famous,” and “I Love My Squad,” a track I love to rep (shout out to my squad).

Iamsu! also brought out Show Banga, an MC from San Francisco. Shout out to Michelle over at Audible Treats who put me on. I actually didn’t figure out it was him until after he got off stage, though. (SMH.)

The crowd waiting for J.Boog.

My girl wanted to borrow my phone to take videos of J.Boog because hers had died. I’m glad she did because she snapped this epic still of the crowd. I had my back turned the entire time in the photo pit, so I missed it completely. It definitely got way more crowded as the night progressed. I think most people were there for Su and J.Boog anyways. I’m sad we missed Morgan Heritage, another reggae band. I’ve heard great things.

J.Boog with his amazing band headlining Cukui Music Festival.

They hyped us up over three times before J.Boog actually graced the stage. I noticed because I was starting to get anxious and cold. Fuck. The Bay gets so cold at night! I was in a hoodie too! I’m forever spoiled by the weather in La La Land. Boog was backed up by his amazing band and backup singers. He gave each musician time to perform a solo number on their instrument. Such good vibes.

J. Boog getting the Cukui Music Fest crowd hype.

Boog one of the biggest names in the world of reggae. He’s a big deal. Simplicity in his outfit: white zip-up and jeans. He did not disappoint the crowd. There were huge flags of his face being waved around. My homegirl pointed out the amount of music out there influenced by reggae that we don’t even realize. We’re talking Drake and Rihanna’s “Work.” It became so evident during his set.

Boog closed out with his biggest hit “Let’s Do It Again.” How can you not like this song?

After the festival, we get to the parking lot and notice there’s a show at Levi’s. Coldplay! We could literally hear the show and see the sold out stadium. That definitely would have been the move if Cukui wasn’t happening.
It’s crazy to me Great America and Levi’s share a parking lot. We decided to sit in the whip with the heat and windows rolled down to hear the Coldplay show. Solid ending.

Problem on his #litlife tour at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA.

Sunday, September 4

Like whaaaaaat. You know I had to catch Problem on tour through my hood. Well, kind of my hood. Santa Cruz is about an hour from where I live, but we used to hit The Catalyst for shows all the time growing up. This is probably the city’s most famous venue. If you aren’t familiar, Santa Cruz is definitely a beach town. Instant feel-good summer vibes as you drive in.

Shout out to my best friend from home driving us. The windy 17 Freeway isn’t always the safest at night. He invited his friend, who’s never really been to a rap concert. He’s what I call an “EDM head.” The pressure was on me to show him a good time. I wasn’t sure how Problem’s show would suffice as breaking his rap concert virginity…

The concern was heightened when I find out Problem wasn’t performing on the main stage. First of all, I had no idea there were two stages in The Catalyst. The venue is pretty tiny… it reminds of The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA, but way smaller. These places love to have two shows going on at once.

It’s all good, though. I just thought Problem deserved the main stage. It was a DJ duo named The White Panda instead. My friends were actually familiar. If I remember correctly, tickets were $26 for Problem and $21 for The White Panda. SMH.

It ended up working out. Rap shows are meant to be in small intimidate settings. That’s how the whole movement of Hip Hop started. So I could appreciate this tonight. I was informed Problem would hit the stage at 11pm, so we pulled up… at 11pm. The room was pretty small, and the crowd size was decent. I’ve definitely caught Problem with a sellout crowd at a club in Hollywood (specifically, Drais…. RIP).

Problem has so many hits, songs he’s featured on that you totally forget, like “Walk Thru” with Rich Homie Quan. His set was ridiculously short. Like 30, maybe 40 minutes. Which is fine I guess. I just thought it was very short for an official tour. He played “Take Your Tights Off,” which is a banger but reminded me off how ratchet it is.

Problem’s energy definitely matched the titled of the tour (#litlife) when he hit the stage. About a couple songs in, Prob straight up dips and goes to roll a joint. In the meantime, his hype man asks a bunch of girls to hit the stage. You can probably guess what happens next. Just your average twerk contest. In a nut shell: ratchet.

Closing out, Prob actually said this was the best crowd all tour, which makes me now wonder if rappers say that at every show.

#litlife baseball cap at the merchandise table.

Shout out to Nick, Problem’s brother, running the merchandise table all tour. Our friend actually really liked this hat, but didn’t want to cough up $30.

This was the last stop on the tour. Nick said they were mad tired and heading back to L.A. right after the show. That’s probably why he ended so early… just kidding. But hey. I used to fantasize about going on tour with a rapper. The reality is, it’s not all glamorous. It’s a lot of work and getting homesick is almost guaranteed.

Monday, September 5

It’s finally here. The 5th annual Hiero Day festival held in Oakland, CA, a city I absolutely adore. The moment this was announced and I found out it was a three-day weekend, I grabbed flights home. Southwest was affordable too, the trick is: get them way ahead of time. And sacrifice sleep for the early morning/late night options, because I’d rather pocket that $15 difference.

5th annual Hiero Day in Oakland, CA.

I actually knew a good amount of people attending the event, but as with any festival, actually meeting requires efforts on both ends. We parked over by our girl’s crib and Lyft-ed to the event. If you look at the event flier, it literally just says it’s on the streets of Oakland. They legit just blocked off streets and posted at the intersection of 3rd and Chestnut.

I heard the line getting in was a zoo, and it was. They had increased tickets from $20 to $40, and at one point, they hit full capacity. They didn’t even let people in with a ticket (Smh!) I had homies drive from my neck of the woods (an hour away) and get rejected. That’s super sketch. I would definitely ask for a refund.

Murs hitting the Infinity stage at Hiero Day in Oakland, CA.

We walked in during Murs’ set. I absolutely loved the backdrop on the stage. The Hieroglyphics logo just makes me feel like I’m home. I have a Hiero sweater that I copped at Rock The Bells one year in The Bay. I definitely left it in L.A. though…

Murs is a favorite in the bay. Everyone was at the main stage, a.k.a. the Infinity stage, for his set. One of my homegirls actually came just for him. I loved hearing “Break Up” live again. That record was a classic and always reminds me that how genuine Hip Hop was back in the day.

I couldn’t help but giggle because I remembered when Murs came through DX for our weekly music meeting, and I was just clowning on him for playing Pokemon Go. Is that still poppin’?

We walked in during Murs’ set. I absolutely loved the backdrop on the stage. The Hieroglyphics logo just makes me feel like I’m home. I have a Hiero sweater that I copped at Rock The Bells one year in the bay. Definitely left it in LA though…

Oh, just in case you didn’t know so, Hieroglyphics is a legendary rap group from Oakland, CA. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch their set. So let me lace you with a gem.

Nef The Pharaoh taking the Full Circle Stage at Hiero Day.

Now, who I personally came to see, was Nef The Pharaoh. He’s a young MC out of Vallejo, CA. You could tell a lot of fans were there for his set, including people on the rooftops to the side of the stage. It was super lit. We were trying to figure out if those were people who had paid or people who just snuck on the rooftops. The latter was highly probable.

“Big Tymin’” is the song that got me stuck on Nef. In fact, I remember the first time I heard it. The “fresh like mayonnaise” line had me tapping the Shazam button to find out the name of the song. I had literally just touched down in The Bay for a weekend home and heard it on 106 KMEL, my favorite radio station back home.

Nef also performed “Everything Big,” another banger. The security and event staff were pretty useless. We had media passes with the whole intention of being able to take photos up close, away from the madness. So many people were pushing and shoving, at one point, they just found an opening in the gate and everyone barged through.

We held our ground. It was a great spot minus the pole smack dab in the middle obstructing my perfect view of the artists on stage. That moment when Nef brings out Iamsu! and P-Lo though. We literally just saw Su, but this time, he was in his element with the squad. I was definitely lit. At that point, I decided I wanted to move to Oakland.

Mistah F.A.B. does a surprise set at Hiero Day.

What’s good, Mistah F.A.B.! For me, there is so much high school nostalgia with his music; memories of ghostriding the whip down the 280 Freeway in San Jose. Beyond reckless. In more recent news, his last album Son Of A Pimp Part 2 was fire. He completely surprised the crowd and proceeded to perform a good number of songs. “N.E.W. Oakland” couldn’t be more perfect.

Juvenile taking the stage at Hiero Day with a camouflage bandana.

Juvenile was next on the Full Circle stage. Rocking a camo-print bandana around his forehead, he is the definition of an OG. We’re talking beyond “Back That Azz Up” and “Slow Motion.” We’re talking his Hot Boys days with Lil Wayne. The crowd definitely came for him. His hits are undeniable. Unfortunately, we left the scene to catch some of Too $hort.

Living Legends floatie by the vendors.

Seeing the Living Legends booth on the way out really reminded me of how long I’ve been listening to Hip Hop, and where my love originated: The mighty Bay Area. I remember my first time going to Rock The Bells at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. I went just to see The Pack. They were literally the soundtrack to all our parties.

I look back now and am embarrassed to tell that story. Being at that festival opened my eyes to the world of Hip Hop beyond the present time. I went home that night and did my research. Now I can’t get enough.