Dozens of artists and thousands of fans came together at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, Calif., to celebrate West Coast hip-hop and culture on Friday (Sept. 20) for Cabana Concerts’ second-annual Welcome to the West Festival.
Nipsey Hussle was the sold-out festival’s inaugural run’s headliner in May 2018, and thus a tribute for the slain Los Angeles native was the highlighted attraction for the concert’s second installment. Aside from the planned tribute that hit fans towards the end of the show, the late rapper was celebrated throughout the night, as every performer shouted out variations of “R.I.P to my brother Nipsey Hussle!” and “Let’s do it one time for Nipsey!” at some point during their set, many times covering famed tracks of Nipsey’s.
The slated artists kept the audience’s attention as they delivered brief sets, gracing the stage for just under 15 minutes (aside from the headlining Ice Cube). Notable performers included Nipsey’s All Money In labelmate J Stone, who took the stage with a symbolic blue bandana around his forehead to perform “All Get Right,” and several other of his Nipsey-assisted records.
Later in the night, Leimart Park native Dom Kennedy donned an All Money In shirt in honor of the late rapper, and encouraged the crowd to raise their cell phone flashlights in place of traditional lighters. That created a uniform flickering throughout the arena while he gave fans a somber version of Nip’s “Double Up.” Kennedy also performed “Please,” which features the late rapper, before shouting “R.I.P. Nipsey Hussle, we love you” and making his exit.
Dj Quik, who was joined by his son David Blake Jr, was the final performer before the awaited tribute. The venue lights dimmed and fans murmured excitedly as Nipsey’s former DJ, DJ VIP, and dozens of All Money In merchandise-clad men — including the show’s entire opening lineup, Dom Kennedy, Nipsey’s formed bodyguard J Roc, and several All Money In collective members — slowly trickled onto the stage.
DJ VIP then steered fans through the experience, shouting “Let’s honor a legend, my man Nipsey Hussle!” as he persuaded the crowd to raise their phone flashlights once again. “Hussle & Motivate” rang out through the arena and fans stood (and remained standing for the duration of the segment) to pay their respects, while the stage was a sea of blue “The Marathon Continues” flags as the late rapper’s associates waved their branded bandanas.
The giant screen behind the performers and the Jumbotron in the middle of the arena continuously played a montage of Nipsey Hussle footage, showing him walking through his infamous Crenshaw neighborhood, performing at various concerts, and interacting with loved ones. The visual cycled through seemingly hundreds of clips, while DJ VIP played the late artist’s best known work, including “Checc Me Out,” “Rap N*****,” “7 Days A Week,” “Grinding All My Life” and more, the crowd effortlessly rapping in unison.
DJ VIP and several others hyped the attendees, cultivating an earnest positivity as they encouraged everyone to “Turn up!” in honor of Nipsey’s life. VIP concluded by firing off “Hussle In the House” and coming from behind the booth, thanking the crowd and shouting out his late friend once more, yelling “Thank you to my man Nipsey Hussle, we love you!” as the audience cheered.
After a brief intermission, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony were introduced as “legends in the building” before they played a short set, kicking off with “East 1999.” The four group members’ family and friends lined the stage in the background as Wish Bone did most of the hosting and MC duties. Their segment closed out with “Tha Crossroads,” and the group led the audience in a staccato “Real, Hip, Hop” chant, reminding attendees of the nights’ purpose.
The stage was then cleared to welcome Ice Cube, who performed with a lookalike hype man, both dressed in similar all-black Dickies suits. Though the crowd began to slowly dwindle, a boisterous “Ice Cube” chant resonated as the mogul came out to “That New Funkadelik.” He paced the stage for the duration of his setlist, eventually closing out the night with “It Was A Good Day,” before shouting out Nipsey one final time.