You never know what might happen at ComplexCon.
At 1 p.m. on Sunday in Long Beach, DaBaby stared down Hot Ones host Sean Evans as he battled through 10 spicy wings. By the end of the live episode, DaBaby had to abandon his bowl of ice cream and gulp down a whole pitcher of water to make it through the challenge. “These are fuckin’ hot.”
Four hours later, the Charlotte rapper managed to make it through whatever kind of intestinal problems a body faces after taping an episode of Hot Ones, and surprised fans with an unannounced performance at the Pigeons & Planes stage.
“That ain’t DaBaby, that’s my baby.”
DaBaby’s signature drop echoed over the crowd, announcing his presence moments before he took the stage.
If there were still any doubts in anyone’s mind about DaBaby’s status as 2019’s biggest breakout rapper, he put them to rest within the first 10 minutes of his set. After joking during the Hot Ones taping about his habit of rapping on songs before the beat even comes in, he started his set just as quickly, opening with three straight hits: “Suge,” “Baby on Baby,” and “Cash Shit.” DaBaby isn’t the kind of rapper to save his biggest songs for the end of the set.
He had plenty of gas left in the tank after burning through those, though. With new cuts like “Bop,” “Vibez,” and “Intro” from KIRK at his disposal, plus everything on Baby On Baby, DaBaby has no issues filling out a full set with crowd-pleasers released exclusively in 2019. What a year.
DaBaby has gained a reputation for his habit of jumping into the crowd and performing from the shoulders of his massive security guards, and he happily hopped over the barricade to do the same in Long Beach. It’s never easy to play an unannounced early-evening set in front of a convention center crowd, but DaBaby managed to draw one of the most energetic crowds of ComplexCon 2019.
He had a few tricks up his sleeve. “We can’t come to ComplexCon and not go viral,” DaBaby announced from the middle of the floor, as he and Stunna 4 Vegas coaxed everyone to illuminate the arena with their phones. Earlier, he retrieved a bra from a “willing participant over the age of 21” as giant inflatable babies danced around the stage. If you hadn’t noticed, DaBaby’s a showman.
DaBaby’s set wasn’t the only surprise on Sunday. 21 Savage also popped up for an unannounced performance of his own. Acknowledging the challenges of playing an afternoon show without the crowd’s prior knowledge, 21 joked early in his set: “I feel like I’m performing at a talent show or something.” But he won the ComplexCon audience over with the same kind of effortless charisma that sits at the core of songs like “No Heart.”
As he ran through tracks from Savage Mode, Issa Album, Without Warning, Not All Heroes Wear Capes, and i am > i was, barely pausing for breaks, it became apparent just how many hits 21 has. But the biggest crowd reaction of the night, surpassing even his guest verse on Post Malone’s massive “Rockstar,” was “Bank Account.”
Before Anderson .Paak closed out ComplexCon 2019, there was one more surprise in store for fans. Chance the Rapper walked the floor, making an appearance at Joe Freshgoods’ booth, and running into Takashi Murakami for an impromptu conversation about his work with Kanye West.
Anything can happen at ComplexCon.