It’s hard to say who had more fun night at Detroit’s historic Fillmore theater on Sunday, November 5th: Lil Yachty or his die-hard fans. The famed pop-rapper surprised the audience, bringing five Detroit-based rappers to the stage — including Tee Grizzley — and performing an extra hour of Michigan-specific tracks.
Everybody got what they wanted Sunday night. Yachty reunited with old friends. The audience got six shows for the price of one.
This was no ordinary Lil Yachty performance. What happened Sunday night could only happen in Detroit — Lil Yachty’s self-proclaimed second home.
Here’s how it all went down.
Despite the night’s eventual hype, Yachty’s first set was relatively mellow. Pulling from his most recent psychedelic rap-rock album — 2023’s Let’s Start Here — Yachty performed this first four-song set with a live, all-Black female band. The album was very well received critically, and enjoyed a more-than-modest popular reception to boot — but the crowd wanted something else, you could feel it.
I arrived at the Fillmore well before the night’s first opener, EmmanuelDaProphet, began his set. The General Admission pit was already close to full. The house DJ was merely playing popular hip-hop tracks on the overhead speakers and already the pit-goers were moshing. With EmmanuelDaProphet’s first lyric, the ground was shaking. So as much as the crowd might have loved Let’s Start Here, what they really wanted to do was get hype.
Lil Yachty’s second set allowed the crowd to do exactly that.
“See I made this project called Michigan Boy Boat,” Yachty shouted to wild applause. “And I’ve never got to perform any of these songs before, so you mind if I crank some of these bitches out?”
Released at the height of the pandemic, 2021’s Michigan Boy Boat is far from Lil Boat’s most popular record, with only one song garnering more than 10 million Spotify streams. But popularity is city-dependent, and Lil Yachty knows that. At a Yachty concert in Gdansk, Poland this summer, the pop star performed “Poland” six times in a row, each time with increasing crowd appeal. So it was only natural for Yachty to take a detour from his usual set, and perform Michigan Boy Boat for a Michigan audience rapping every lyric alongside him.
But Michigan Boy Boat was just the beginning of Yachty’s Detroit-set detour.
“Can I just play some of my favorite Detroit songs?” Yachty asked the audience. They responded with enthusiasm. “Let’s turn this bitch into a club,” Yachty said. And that was exactly what the crowd was looking for. Then Yachty brought out five of the biggest names in Detroit rap.
First up was Peezy — a Detroit icon, and the only guest star not featured on Michigan Boy Boat — performing his latest breakout hit, “2 Million Up.” Peezy was followed by another iconic native, Icewear Vezzo, who joined Yachty for their Michigan Boy Boat banger, “Plastic.” But the show of Detroit’s best hits didn’t stop there. Next up was the 313’s favorite laugh-rapper, Sada Baby, commanding the stage with jingle dances for the ever-bouncy “Whole Lotta Choppas.” Then Yachty brought out one of the city’s most prolific MCs, Babyface Ray. Together, the two performed their joint hit from Michigan Boy Boat, “Fight Night Round 3.”
“Hold on, hold on, hold on,” Yachty said, cutting off the music, ushering one Detroit rap star after another on and off the stage.
“This next guy is my actual brother. My actual, actual brother that I started all of this with,” Yachty said. And out walked Tee Grizzley.
After Eminem and Big Sean, Tee Grizzley is far and away Michigan’s most famous rapper. His most recent release, 2023’s Tee’s Coney Island, is a quintessential Detroit record. It was Grizzley who originally brought Lil Yachty to the Michigan rap scene, as good an introducer as any. Without Grizz, there would be no Michigan Boy Band, and most likely no Let’s Start Here.
“Remember a couple years ago you brought me to this exact stage?” Yachty asked Grizz, referring to the last stop on the ladder’s 2017 tour at the Fillmore. “I think we gotta rock this bitch.”
And rock it they did. Together, the duo tag-teamed “From the D to the A,” rapping both of each other’s verses on top of their own. The crowd was alive. Then Tee Grizzley took center stage and dazzled with a solo performance of “First Day Out.” Lil Yachty put on a banner performance, but “First Day Out” might still have been the highlight of the night.
“I had to do that shit because Detroit is like my second home,” Yachty said after Grizz left the stage. “But let’s get back to the show. Open that shit up,” he continued, motioning for the crowd to make space for a mosh pit.
Next came a cover of Dram’s “Broccoli (ft. Lil Yachty),” then KYLE’s “iSpy (ft. Lil Yachty)” and Yachty’s own “TESLA.” The hype was high and stayed that way until the final set, when the live band returned and brought back the mellow mood with four more songs from Let’s Start Here.
Lil Yachty’s Sunday show at the Fillmore was 36 songs long and included five surprise guests. Yachty reunited with five old friends and performed an underappreciated album for an appreciative audience.
What more could anyone ask for?
Daily Arts Writer Joshua Medintz can be reached at email@example.com.