On Aug. 24, Lil Baby brought his “It’s Only Us Tour” to Chicago. The national tour features not only Lil Baby, but Atlanta Trap rapper Hunxho, Quality Control’s newest rapper Gloss Up, Lil Baby’s first signee Rylo Rodriguez, and the F.N.F. queen Glorilla. 

Without question Chicago is a hub for Black music and culture. At this point, the city’s slang is embedded in rap’s DNA, solidifying Chicago’s influence on hip hop since Chief Keef and drill became household names. 

So giving a killer performance in Chicago is a must for anyone looking to take over the rap game. As a longtime Chief Keef fan, Chicago means a lot to Glorilla and she expressed to the crowd how much she enjoyed performing in Chicago. She also said Chicago is her favorite city to perform in. 

With that being said, despite being limited to a 30-minute set, Glorilla’s stage presence and energy really stole the show. As anticipated, Lil Baby had some of the most insane crowd reactions to his major hits. Although he had the better stage production, and a 30-song set list spanning over an hour and a half, Glorilla did more with less. 

Here’s our review of the “It’s Only Us Tour” stop in Chicago.

What was the best part of the concert?

In between each artist’s sets, the United Center turned into a $5 basement party. The words “Twerk Contest” came across the big screens, and the cameras panned to groups of ladies going crazy with the dance moves. 

The DJ also used this time to acknowledge Chicago rap, playing everything from “Faneto” by Chief Keef and “Hellcats & Trackhawks” by Lil Durk to “Crazy Story” by King Von and “Slide” by FBG Duck. This combination of dancing and DJ mixes kept the crowd energized and was truly just fun to see. 

Once Lil Baby’s set started, the crowd’s reactions to some of his biggest songs — such as  “My Dawg,” “Sum 2 Prove,” “We Paid” (with fellow rapper 42 Dugg) and “Freestyle” — served as a reminder as to how he became the Diamond-certified rapper he is today.

Was Chicago feeling the lineup?

OK, let’s set the scene first. The crowd consisted of mostly millennial and older Gen Z women. Although men were in low numbers, they were present. While talking with concert goers, one young man said, “I’m only here for the women,”  as the ladies came out in droves to see Glorilla and potentially Gloss Up. This was not a crowd of hip hop historians, but one that came to have a good time.

Also, keep in mind, Chicago has always been a hub for Black music and culture. So although Lil Baby, Glorilla and the other artists on the bill hail from the South, they see Chicago as the drill capitol, and a pivotal city in the music landscape. Glorilla, being a major Chief Keef fan, shared with the crowd that she always wanted to come to Chicago as a kid, and admired the city for years. 

Considering the mass movement of Black people during the Great Migration, damn near everybody in Chicago has southern roots anyway. So when it comes to Lil Baby’s Atlanta sound, or the gritty Memphis swag from Glorilla, Chicago loves and embraces what each of these artists bring to this new age of drill.

What was the flow of the concert?

OK, so here’s where things got a little confusing. Lil Baby’s first signee, Alabama native Rylo Rodriguez, was scheduled to perform at 7:40 p.m. He did not. For some reason, he came out about 20 minutes into Lil Baby’s set, and performed three or four songs. His entrance on stage happened abruptly. Lil Baby was just starting to get good energy from the crowd and Rylo’s performance was somewhat of a buzzkill. 

Rylo missing his 7:40 p.m. set time stalled the show, as his performance lacked energy. His songs, “Equal Dirt” and “Thang For You,” came off as depressing while he performed with just a spotlight focused on him and dim house lights. 

Additionally, Rylo’s delay caused a huge gap between QC’s newest artist, Memphis rapper Gloss Up, who left the stage around 7:30 p.m., and Glorilla, who didn’t come on stage until 9 p.m.

With Lil Baby, the crowd stirred anxiously with excitement as we waited for the rap superstar to hit the stage. After an explosive performance from Glorilla, and the DJ’s ceremonial playing of Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares,” the crowd was hype. But it seemed like every time Lil Baby gained momentum, he’d leave the stage for an outfit change, extinguishing any excitement left in the arena. Lil Baby has a long list of popular songs, including “Emotionally Scarred,” “Sum 2 Prove,” “The Bigger Picture,” and “Freestyle.” He could have easily raised the crowd’s energy levels by giving us a medley of those recognizable hits. Instead, throughout his 30-song setlist, he would go back and forth between fan favorites, and slower deep cuts. That ultimately killed the momentum.

Dang, so how long was the concert?

The entire event was running on CP time. I got to my seat around 8 p.m. I feel bad for the people who got there when the doors opened at 6 p.m.

Although they caught the opening acts of Hunxho and Gloss Up, Glorilla didn’t hit the stage until 9 p.m. when she was scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Lil Baby took the stage at 9:55 p.m., which put him 40 minutes behind as he was scheduled for 9:15 p.m. Rap shows are notoriously behind; so things could have been worse. But the concert still ended relatively on time, shortly after 11 p.m.

OK, so how would you sum up Glorilla and Lil Baby’s performances?

Glo was really impressive. This show highlighted just how much of a better performer she is than Lil Baby. Surrounded by dancers who matched her army camo pants and top, Glorilla commanded every corner of the stage like a general. Every song had a routine that seemed thoughtfully planned out as Glo would jump in and out of the choreography while hyping up the crowd. You could often see the excitement on Glorilla’s face as she shook her head like she had locs. 

She uses a live instrumental mix with no vocal backing track. So in other words, her mic was ON, and she used it to not only rap smash hits “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” and “Tomorrow” word-for-word, but also to interact with the crowd. She took breaks often to talk to the crowd, giving segues into the next song and even recovering flawlessly after a music malfunction during her first song, “Blessed.” The music stopped and didn’t come back on, but she kept rapping acapella and didn’t miss a word or a beat. She then apologized to the crowd for the music and professed that somebody was going to be fired for the issue. Her charisma was on 10.

Lil Baby fan in white sunglasses smiling during live performance
In the audience, fans are hyped up to see Lil Baby live at United Center on August 26, 2023. Photo by Tyger Ligon for The TRiiBE®

She shared that Chicago is her favorite place to perform. I usually don’t believe artists when they say things like this, but it showed. She brought out Chicago rising stars, Mello Buckzz and FendiDa Rappa, showing appreciation and sisterhood between female rappers. She may have only performed for 30 minutes, but her set felt as if we were at a Glorilla-headlining concert. 

While Lil Baby has an impressive catalog, his energy didn’t match the magnitude of his records. He started out performing songs from his newest project It’s Only Me: in order, “Never Hating,” “Stand On It,” “In A Minute,” and “Real Spill.” Some of these aren’t songs the audience can dance to. Coming after Glorilla, his set choices quickly dampened the mood. The crowd’s energy did not pick up until the third song, “Stand On It,” which had a big crowd response. 

Lil Baby also still seemed awkward on stage, barely acknowledging the crowd. He left the stage many times for outfit changes — four of them, to be exact. Don’t get me wrong, Lil Baby has colossal records, but he’s clearly not a natural performer. Considering that he’s often referred to as one of the best rappers in the game right now, I left the show unfulfilled.

is a culture correspondent with The TRiiBE.