One of the most anticipated hip-hop tours this summer landed in Toronto, just in time for the biggest weekend in the city. Chris Brown and Lil Baby’s “One Of Them Ones” presented by Rolling Loud marked day two of October World Weekend in the 6ix.
Yung Bleu was the first up, emerging on stage in Canada for the first time in his career. Even though daytime shows can be anticlimactic, and it seemed like most were unaware he’d be the sole opening act performing, Bleu’s presence sent a wave of excitement through the crowd. His stage setup was minimum, only accompanied by three dancers with his name blazed across the screen behind him—his ability to craft lush, soulful records with a street edge translated across the whole amphitheater. The crowd carried portions of his records without prompt, from fan favorites in his Investment series to Drake’s verse on “You’re Mines Still” — an appropriate closer that left things on a high note before the double-feature.
Chris Brown and Lil Baby didn’t seem like an obvious choice of tourmates, especially since the former’s built a legacy throughout nearly two decades while the latter is in the midst of building his. The show rotated between the two artists performing mini-sets back-to-back. Lil Baby touched the stage for half an hour before trading places with Chris Brown, then returned before Breezy closed the show. Unfortunately, the logistics behind the back-and-forth appeared to have caused delays and sound issues.
As Lil Baby emerged on top of a three-piece high-rise platform, he leaped into records like “Wants & Needs,” “On Me,” and “Baby” as the diamonds on his wrist and neck danced along. Unfortunately, his vocals were muffled during “Drip Too Hard,” making it hard to even identify his ode to his now-incarcerated friend and collaborator, Gunna. The tech difficulties worsened, causing Baby to leave the stage and allowing the DJ to maintain the energy. After returning to play the last few songs of his first set, like “My Dawg” and “Close Friends,” he left the stage again, and a wave of confusion took over the crowd, unsure of what to make of his absence.
The transitions between sets were less than seamless throughout the evening, but Breezy’s elaborate entrance was well worth it. The “Loyal” singer floated from above the stage and onto the same high-rise platform where Baby introduced himself. Laced in a black bomber jacket and a glowing choker chain, he kicked off the set with “Forbidden” alongside a dozen dancers. The fluid choreography continued into his second song, “Hit My Line,” before addressing the crowd — one that he hasn’t necessarily been able to perform in front of for over a decade. He thanked his fans — and Canadian Customs for letting him into the country — then leaped into records like “Party” and “Liquor.”
Despite the cloud of controversy following Chris Brown’s career, the music he released within the past decade is what resonated most with the fans. And while his recent album might not have performed as well as he hoped, opinions may change over time. The Heartbreak On A Full Moon tracklist containing 45+ songs felt overwhelming on paper. However, when he performs songs like “Privacy” and “Pills & Automobiles” to thunderous applause, it’s a reminder of how inescapable the singles off of that project are. He touched every pocket of his fanbase throughout his two sets alongside Baby. A section of his stage time was reserved for Afrobeats hits like Lojay and Sarz’s “Mona Lisa (Remix)” and the WizKid-assisted “Call Me Everyday.” Then, he put the power into the hands of the fans for three rounds as their cheers selected the next song he’d perform. Chris Brown’s showmanship is the core of his appeal. He could serenade his fans for hours, and they’ll eat it up. However, those moments when his sharp choreography was on display earned the loudest applause, like when he executed perfectly synced choreography with an animated Transformer on the screen.
As the evening closed, Chris Brown pulled out a few tricks from his sleeve, bringing out his tourmates in the lead-up to his special guest — Tory Lanez. Truthfully, it’s the only city in the world where Chris Brown could pull off such a ballsy move without triggering an immediate backlash. Tory performed “In A Minute,” which is a surprising choice since, only a few months prior, it wasn’t even included in his setlist at Metro Metro until a fan requested it. The two later joined forces for “Bad Then A Beach” before Tory left the stage, allowing Breezy to end the show alone with records like “No Guidance” and “Go Crazy,” featuring an animated Young Thug.
The night was billed as a co-headlining tour. However, there wasn’t as much of an overlap of an audience as one would think. Most were there to see Chris Brown, naturally, who brought fans through a two-decade journey of timeless records. Lil Baby an excellent addition that helped keep the party going. Even with the slew of performers he got on stage, it was pretty clear that Chris Brown missed his Canadian fans just as much as they missed him.