Lil Baby hosts an epic birthday party

It must be said that the concert had a 7 p.m. start time and Lil Baby didn’t appear on stage until a few minutes before 10 p.m. (Memphis rapper Gloss Up, one of the supporting acts for the “It’s Only Us” tour, opened the show around 8 p.m. with a 30-minute set that slightly alleviated the long wait). The wait was so perplexing that some fans even wondered if any of his friends would show up at all.

Lil baby and his friends must fell out??

— a pisces gworlll 💖💘💕✨🌑 (@lolyesimlying) December 28, 2023

But all the doubt subsided as soon as Lil Baby graced the stage. Suddenly, the long wait didn’t seem to matter anymore as the sold-out crowd rapped along to opening tracks like “Stand on It,” “My Dawg” and “Southside.” Wearing a red leather jacket and pants to match, he seamlessly embodied the persona of a rap superstar who’ll always be adored in Atlanta. And that adoration is reciprocal. The concert felt like a love letter to the Atlanta fans who’ve made Lil Baby one of the biggest rappers in the world.

ExplorePHOTOS: Lil Baby draws star power for birthday bash

Last year’s Lil Baby & Friends Birthday Celebration featured appearances from Drake, Lil Yachty and more. This year’s show carried the same level of star power. Rappers like Quavo, Rob49, Hunxho, 2 Chainz and Rylo Rodriguez — who was met with fans rapping every word to his hit “Equal Dirt”— took the stage earlier in the show. In between those sets, Lil Baby continued the momentum by performing songs like “Pure Cocaine” and “Sum 2 Prove.”

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journ

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journ

And if that wasn’t enough, R&B crooner Fridayy, Detroit rappers 42 Dugg and Veeze, 21 Savage and Lil Durk (who performed DJ Khaled’s “Every Chance I Get” with Lil Baby) also hit the stage. The highlight of the night arrived when J. Cole performed hits like “Middle Child” and “No Role Modelz.”

The show ended with final appearances from the City Girls’ Yung Miami and Atlanta singer Jacquees. Dressed in all-black this time, Lil Baby concluded the night with his hit “Freestyle.” But he didn’t even need to perform the song. The crowd performed it for him, rapping each verse with the fervor of knowing that the hit is indeed an anthemic track for Atlanta hip-hop.

Lil Baby is Atlanta rap’s star of the moment. With three no. 1 albums (his latest, “It’s Only Me,” was released in 2022) and more than a dozen top 10 hits under his belt, the 29-year-old rapper has become a household name in less than five years. Wednesday night’s show was a stunning celebration full of surprises that proved the secret to Lil Baby’s skyrocketing success is his unyielding fanbase.

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