Concert review: Curren$y pays off at Orpheum, Ybor City

Curren$y proves his worth with a smooth, enduring set this past Friday night.

For all his inherent talent, Curren$y’s career has been nothing short of a stoned and slow roller coaster ride since his breakout in the early '00s. First signing to Master P’s monolithic No Limit Records for some early one-offs in 2002, then teaming with Cash Money for a several tracks alongside Lil Wayne & Co. — including his debut “Where Da Cash At? — Curren$y seemed to be rapping on the door of superstardom by the middle of the decade.

Then, everything came to an underwhelming halt. A few middling mixtapes, lack of label enthusiasm, and album delays put Curren$y closer to where he’d started from by 2008. Off the map, and on his own, he underwent a stylistic sea change, shifting gears to more lazy, jazzed-out beats with a complex and densely-packed rhyme style that shined on releases like 2009’s How Fly with the little-known Wiz Khalifa and his third album, 2010’s Pilot Talk. Since then, he’s remained persistent, gaining a steady clip of commercial and critical acclaim as the gangster-turned-stoner rapper for the discerning crowd.

Walking up to Curren$y’s Friday night show at the Orpheum, you could see this perseverance paying off in real time; a packed line snaked out the door with disappointed and concerned voicings of “It’s sold out?” surfacing up and down the block. The show, part of the tour promoting his latest, The Drive in Theatre, definitely looked sold to capacity as throngs of snap-backed and chronic-laced kids made the most of The Orpheum’s two levels.

With plenty of hype from a dude repping whatever promotion company was putting on the show, Curren$y waltzed on around 11, blunt in hand and cheekily grinning as he launched into a bombastic flow of rhymes and motions on a level of Snoop Dogg-ian smoothness. The stagefront crowd seemed to huff it all in (literally and figuratively) as they rhymed along every word to classics like Pilot Talk’s “King Kong,” “Elevator Music,” an apropos take on “I Got 5 on It,” “Godfather IV,” and seemingly like 20 others during his 90-plus minute set.

As a pretentious music writer, you look for symbolism in everything. If Friday night’s show proved anything, it’s that Curren$y’s carefree, lasting approach to live performance is the perfect symbol to his career and it’s current payoff. Remember, it’s all about the journey, not the destination, maannn :::puufffff:::

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