Concert Reviews

Lil Baby and Lil Durk Cemented Their Star Power in Dallas

Two of rap’s rising artists, Lil Baby and Lil Durk, touched down in Dallas for The Back Outside Tour.
Eric Diep
Two of rap’s rising artists, Lil Baby and Lil Durk, touched down in Dallas for The Back Outside Tour.
Lil Baby, who is going by the nickname The Hero these days, wanted to do something special for Dallas. The day before his show, he notified his followers on Instagram that he'd arrived for The Back Outside Tour, blasting Rae Rae’s “Unconditional Love” in his car. The 18-year-old rapper Rae Rae was shot to death in Atlanta last July, and The Hero never misses an opportunity to pay tribute to talent gone too soon.

On Wednesday night at the Dos Equis Pavilion, Lil Baby carried on his theme by playing MO3 and OG Bobby Billions’ “Outside (Better Days)” during his electrifying performance, singing along to the words as the mostly young audience sang back. MO3 was an up-and-coming Dallas rapper who was fatally shot last November. The fact that Baby, and special guest Lil Durk aka The Voice (who also memorialized OTF’s rising star King Von and his brother DThang during his performance) took separate moments to honor these late artists showed the duo’s immense care for the genre and for the people who continue to push them to go harder.

Lil Baby and Lil Durk announced their fall tour back in July, just a month after releasing their collaborative project The Voice of the Heroes. The two are currently on the cusp of mainstream recognition, each with their own set of high-profile guest spots on both Kanye West’s 10th album Donda and Drake’s sixth album Certified Lover Boy. The 23-stop tour serves as an official “welcome back” outside after spending months inside over the past year and a half. As often as Baby and Durk mentioned being back outside again, they didn’t account for any COVID variants. The fans here, mostly unmasked, didn’t seem too worried either. The night was meant to be an escape from all of that, spending the next few hours rapping their songs word for word with the person next to them.

After their openers warmed up the crowd, Lil Durk was first to hit the stage with “Man Down” at little over 8:30 p.m. Accompanied by a live band, Durk’s emotive lyrics about the streets hit you right in the chest — more so when a drummer, keyboardist, and guitarist are making the songs sound fuller. Durk never let the energy lull, continuing to deliver street certified songs “Hellcats & Trackhawks,” “Backdoor” and “When We Shoot.”

“I know it ain’t November, but it’s turkey season, right?” Durk said to tease the crowd, before bringing out a turkey mascot for the trapping anthem “Turkey Season.”

Durk’s performance was seamless, transitioning from song to song so smoothly that it seemed evident he’d been working on his live performance during quarantine. One of the bigger pops of the night came from his performance of Drake’s “Laugh Now Cry Later.” As the music video played in the background, Drake’s verse set the crowd up for Durkio, whose lyrics about snitches was a reminder that he still doesn’t mess with Bushwick rapper and internet troll Tekashi 6ix9ine.

Durk brought out Coi Leray for their song “No More Parties,” where she added more fun to his set by dancing and twerking as they exchanged verses.

You didn’t have to wait long for Lil Baby. Minutes before 10 p.m. By this time, the amphitheater was filled up, with more fans standing on their seats to get a better view of the rapper. Momentum built as the instrumental to Drake’s “Wants and Needs” played. In the song, Drake sings, “I'm in love with two girls at one time, and they tens,” and sure enough, Lil Baby, who was on top of a large structure on stage, got out of bed with two women. The sparks went off on stage as Baby began to rip through his verse.

In a Billboard cover story from August, Lil Baby vowed that he was going to be better prepared for this tour. “Right now, my goal is to make my show the craziest shit on Earth,” he said in the interview. It was obvious that Lil Baby has been working on his set, rapping without the backing track at times, using dancers, incorporating choreography and Baby-approved props for each of his songs. These were often literal, such as a clothing rack full of "drip" for his performance of “Drip Too Hard,” a black king’s throne for “All In,” money on the table for “Get Money,” and a lucky fan who was brought on stage to guess the right backpack full of money to take home before “We Paid.”

Lil Baby’s breakout hit “Yes Indeed" was accompanied by a video filled with thunder. By this point, he had changed into a royal blue Louis Vuitton shirt, white jeans and layered chains. The song features Baby’s famous “Wah wah wah, bitch I’m the baby!” line and the crowd happily rapped it back to him. “My Dawg,” another offering for day-one fans, had Lil Baby rapping urgently, speaking for all of us who had “dawgs” to whom to show love.

After the MO3 tribute, The Voice returned to join The Hero to perform the combo of the title track “Voice of the Heroes” and “How It Feels.”

“Dallas is one of the most turnt cities since we did this thing,” Durk said to Baby. He was right; the energy was all about turning up and getting through to the weekend.

Lil Baby’s last seven songs brought his show to an epic finale. The sing-alongs got increasingly louder as he performed his better-known songs. The music video for DJ Khaled’s “EVERY CHANCE I GET” features everything on fire in the background, and Lil Baby made sure to replicate it with a burning building in his visuals. Lil Baby and Lil Durk performing “EVERY CHANCE I GET” was a moment; hearing Lil Durk do his ad-libs in real time as Lil Baby rapped for over two minutes was a treat.

Closing with “Close Friends,” “Emotionally Scarred," “Grace” and “Freestyle” was a run that left fans wanting Baby to go longer.

“You want me to go or nah? I ain’t ready to go,” Lil Baby said, sensing the crowd’s appetite for more. He couldn’t leave the stage without performing “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song in response to the killing of George Floyd. Baby's dancers came back to the stage dressed in black hoodies and stood tall on various platforms. As confetti shot into the audience, Lil Baby rapped his heart out about the current state of the world.

Naturally, Lil Baby ended the night with his Gunna collab “Sold Out Dates.” It was a confident boast that he'd have to back up with official numbers, but the idea that a nationwide tour can be sold out again offers a glimmer of hope for normalcy.