FILE PHOTO: Tyga performs on stage during Power 106’s Powerhouse concert held at Honda Center on June 23, 2012 in Anaheim, California. (Photo © Paul A. Hebert/

Spending my prep-time trying to look my best for the upcoming show, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that I would have the opportunity to spend the evening in the presence of some of the most widely buzzed names in music: headliner Tyga, Kirko Bangz and Iggy Azalea, in addition to special appearances by Wiz Khalifa and Chris Brown.

Buzzed on the buzz surrounding the headliner alone, and high on his bravado, I too had to see for myself if it was a fluke; if the lean, Compton cub, and cousin to Travie, was really ready to enter the circle of life as king, or if he had only single-handedly given voice to two of the hottest tracks of the summer, “Rack City” and “Make It Nasty”.

A rock and a hard place, right?

It’s only because the feel for Tyga is already so strong, that it makes the task of judging him solely based on his performance more difficult. Already people have strong feelings about Tyga, and as of late my conversations about him with both fans and naysayers have typically been political.

There’s a lot of politics involved in how people feel about him, be it the misogyny, the materialism, the so-called mediocrity of pop-gangsta music as a genre, or the implications of mixed-racial politics when Tyga refers to himself as a “mutt” because of his Vietnamese and Jamaican ancestry— and the feelings run deep.

Though his first headlining tour, Tyga is not nearly as new as he is hot, with much of his style and creative vision introduced to me by the Pan-Africanists through the “Black is Beautiful” symbolism of pyramids, ankhs and neme adorned pharaohs, which is the same political thought and symbolism embraced by some West Coast rappers of yesteryear. The familiarity of his sound, style, aesthetic and origin is what made him an instant favorite, both of critics and supporters.

For the first show of the tour, his stage setup was simple; the man, his mic, the music and a visual projection of a tiger feasting on his prey.

As a performer, when he bursts out, the explosive pairing of his movement and vocals ignites the stage and soon enough, the roof is on fire.

At Coachella in ’06, I saw Kanye at the main stage in the middle of the afternoon, just after Common. Pissed as he was that Common lagged it because he was singing to a poor girl who could only hide her face with her hands, he put on a show as only Yeezy can that left a lasting impression even after that other, unfortunate display. At that live show, I became a believer and Kanye West went on to become one of the best live acts in the world, returning back to Coachella as a headliner in 2011.

I believe in Tyga as an entertainer, but if he wants to surpass those who came before him, he has to leave more on the stage than ever before and challenge his viewership to go new places with him.

How can Tyga use the tense conversation surrounding him and his music to further himself as a performer?

Well, he could engage us, address the discourse to keep us watching, riveted, like Yeezy taught me.

Now that you have our attention, Tyga, we expect you to say something.  I’ll be listening.

Kirko Bangz deserves honorable mention for building up crowd momentum, especially after Iggy Azalea and her sidekick effectively killed it. But bless her heart, she does get honorable mention for the most awkward move of the evening, and the unfortunate display went a little something like this: