Tee Grizzley loves Detroit and Detroit loves him. He chose to wrap up the Ain’t It a Blessing tour in his hometown at the gorgeous Fillmore on October 30th, recruiting a cast of relatively unknown openers from all across the country to join him for his homecoming performance. The tour is in support of his debut album My Moment, an album centered around the autobiographical hit song “First Day Out.” Tee Grizzley is a local favorite in Detroit — I could feel the excitement in the air while waiting outside, witnessing what must have been dozens of increasingly bold attempts to sneak past or bribe the event staff for entry. The city of Detroit has always taken defensive pride in its homegrown acts; it’s “Detroit vs. Everybody,” as the famous slogan (and Eminem’s posse cut) goes.
The opening acts were generic and overstayed their welcome. From the rather awful OMB Peezy to the DJ who sounded like a chain smoking Mickey Mouse, the openers were generally underwhelming. Lud Foe, Hardo and Sada Baby were all inoffensive but failed to energize the crowd or make themselves memorable. The only memorable guest was Lil Yachty, who joined Tee Grizzley unexpectedly to perform their collaborative effort “From the D to the A” as well as one of Lil Yachty’s solo numbers, “Peek A Boo.”
For whatever reason, the electricity in the air outside did not translate to the crowd during the show itself. Tee Grizzley suffered from a strangely lackluster crowd in the pit, who only seemed to muster up some energy when he first came on stage, when he played “First Day Out” and when Lil Yachty made his surprise appearance. It’s unclear whether this was the fault of Tee Grizzley — the crowd was unenergetic during the opening acts as well, but then again, the openers did suck. Either way, Tee Grizzley was fighting an uphill battle. In an unexpected twist, the crowd on the balconies was going incredibly hard, their chemically-induced hype greatly surpassing that of those in front of the stage.
Tee Grizzley only stayed on stage for about an hour, which felt like a disappointment after the long-winded opening acts. Tee Grizzley proved beyond doubt that he is a talented rapper, his syrupy flow and deeply personal lyrics combining to great effect, but he does not seem to be a naturally talented live performer. Perhaps this is due to his relative inexperience — this is his first major tour after all, and with time he may learn how to better hype up a difficult crowd. With that being said, his stage presence was endearing, if not experienced. He didn’t really engage the crowd in the way that a more seasoned performer might, but you could tell that he wanted to give his hometown a good show, even if he couldn’t quite figure out how.
He closed out his show with a reprise of “First Day Out,” his most popular track. The tone shifted when he performed this song, a deeply personal work with a nearly unprecedented level of specificity; it was as though he was speaking to his city, telling his story to those who would listen. Afterwards, Tee Grizzley reiterated his love for Detroit and that he would continue to represent the city he came from. This sentiment felt authentic, as though Tee Grizzley really did want to help bring others from the city up with him. You can hear that Detroit-brand defensiveness: “I know they prayed on my downfall,” he declares. This felt like the most important moment of the night, Tee Grizzley’s thesis statement — in spite of the feeble openers and the unexcitable crowd on the floor, it’s still Detroit vs. Everybody, and Tee Grizzley is not going to forget that.