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As Aminé’s 22-track marathon draws to a close, the clock immediately counts down from 60, putting lead rapper Lil Tjay on stage. Unlike veteran Aminé, who swings from playful songs and transitions to stern bars, the young rapper takes some time to heat up.
“Syracuse, what’s good, it’s just me, what’s wrong. Here with you guys,” Lil Tjay said.
University Union’s 2021 Block Party Concert features Lil Tjay and is supported by Aminé, Dominic Fike, DJ duo Sofi Tukker and Flo Milli. In the virtual environment, each performer took the opportunity to sing more songs than they would have sung live. For just over three hours, fans were entertained by uninterrupted music.
Lil Tjay kicked off his show with “Born 2 Be Great” from his 2021 album “Destined 2 Win”. His stage is small and understated, save for a few geometric sculptures, but a banner at the bottom of the screen shows fans getting excited about his set.
“Are you single Tjay? Asking for friends,” one fan commented.
He took a quick look at “Leaked” and “Laneswitch,” two songs that featured his singing/rap fusion that drew critics’ attention to “True 2 Myself.” Behind him, his DJ and hype man shouted to Syracuse fans.
Lil Tjay serenades the audience with his deep singing as the background music drops off on “What Do You Want to Do”. When his voice breaks in the clip, it’s a reminder of how young the artist is.
Lil Tjay also paid tribute to the late rapper Pop Smoke for sharing the smash hit “Mood Swings.” After a sultry performance of the song, he came to life with new enthusiasm for “Zoo York,” Polo G’s “Pop Out” — the song that put him on the rap radar — and “Ruthless” Walk up and down the stage. However, he congratulated the graduating class before ending the episode “just now.”
Next up is Aminé. It took him three songs before he finally addressed the virtual crowd.
“Well, normally that’s when the crowd cheers, but since it’s virtual, it’s completely quiet,” he said, looking around.
The rapper shot to fame after his 2016 single “Caroline,” which took him to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Amine played hits from all of his albums, demonstrating his penchant for playful and humorous lyrics. On “Blinds,” Aminé laughs as he sings the lyric “Dreads like Marley,” pointing out that most of his own dreadlocks are hidden under an oversized beanie.
Aminé never took herself seriously, occasionally laughing at her lyrics as if it was the first time she heard them. At the end of “Spice Girls,” in which he laments his desire to have a hot girl, the song was cut and the room was suddenly filled with lively lyrics from the Spice Girls’ ’90s song “Wannabe.”
Fan comments poured in as the episodes continued with “Heebiejeebies,” “Caroline,” and “Mrs. Clean,” and Aminé’s dance moves got wilder. “I also watch the anime Aminé,” commented one viewer. He took advantage of countless opportunities to talk to fans, or rather the lack of them.
“I just wanted to congratulate the Class of 2021. I’m a little bit out of breath because I’m not resting because, you know, usually the fans are cheering in the middle,” Amine said.
Running around the stage during “Mrs.” was out of breath and tired. Clean,” Aminé said goodbye and ended with “compensation.”
Of all the artists, self-proclaimed “genre-free” musician Dominic Fike spends almost as much time talking to fans as performing for them. He welcomed viewers to the “Dominic Fike Show” and asked a brief question why Syracuse’s mascot used to be “The Orange” instead of the “Orange Girl.”
Before giving the audience a chance to think, Fike burst onto the cover of his reimagined Paul McCartney’s “Kiss of Venus.” There’s a certain irony from the song, which contains the lyrics “Go to college, find your major,” considering Fike himself only lasted a short time in higher education.
Wearing a simple graphic tee and black pants, Fike gave his runway a relaxed yet statement vibe. The most surprising aspect is the original sound he brings on tracks like “Why” and “Babydoll”. Gone are the vocal processing or special effects, replaced by the timeless sound of a simple backing band.
Near the end, he took a moment to dedicate the song “Falling Asleep” from the album “Don’t Forget About Me, Demos” to his late cat Charlie.
“I wrote this song naked because my cat would pee on all my clothes. I guess it’s my fault because I lost all my clothes… This is for you, Charlie,” Fick said.
Almost done, he showed off his versatility on “Florida,” rapping for the first time of the night.
“Thank you for having me. I appreciate every time I leave the house and play guitar and mess around,” Fike said. “Stay in school and don’t do drugs.”
While Fike’s set was both comedy and classic guitar-focused songs, DJ duo Sofi Tukker — Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — brought fans to church. “Come on, put on your best Sunday, it’s house arrest,” Holy Weld sings on “House Arrest.” Fittingly, the DJ platform in front of Hawley-Weld and Halpern rests on a large stone altar-like table, with the figures of Cheetah and Larry Bird at the base of the two lamps.
It was a far cry from their first virtual concert. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Sofi Tukker has aired and streamed more than 400 sets. The pair’s skills and experience interacting with audiences hundreds of miles away are on display.
“I played college basketball and I always wanted to play at Carrier Dome,” Halpern said. “I’m coming up, someone’s going to take me to the Carrier Dome for a basketball game, some family reunion, it’s gotta be fun!”
Before their departure, the duo performed their most famous dance hits, “Drinkee” and “Purple Hat.”
Flo Milli kicked off the night with a brief greeting that put her into a quick, brag-worthy flow reminiscent of Rico Nasty, who stepped on the Block Party stage in 2019 and has been the arabian Inspiration for Bama natives. Milli directed the stage, walking up and down in high heels, wearing a shiny black and gold suit and black arm-length gloves. She transitioned seamlessly from earlier singles to her crowning achievement, a recent full-length album titled “Ho, Why Are You Here?”
By the end of her show, fans were full of energy and looking forward to her upcoming performance. The pandemic may have curbed mosh pits and screaming fans under one roof with top musicians, but each artist has made the most of the situation, often performing for longer than usual. Aminé aptly sums up this year’s Block Party experience.
“If you were singing at home right now, I couldn’t hear you, but I would imagine you were having a good time,” he said. “It’s part of a concert, I say you’re beautiful, you say I’m beautiful… Maybe I’ll surf the web, FaceTime your mom.”
Posted on May 15, 2021 at 10:41 am