It’s the dream team of new Southern rappers: Rick Ross, Yo Gotti, Lil’ Boosie and Plies, paired with Juvenile, the OG of the series. But it almost didn’t happen.
The idea behind the Hypnotized Tour is simple: take the biggest underground rappers from the South and put them onstage together. It’s really a no-brainer: You can’t turn on a radio without hearing Plies’ hit, “Hypnotized,” featuring Akon; Rick Ross is perhaps the top-selling rapper in the nation right now; Juvenile has been pumping out hits since the 90s, and Yo
Gotti (pronounced Young Gotti) is burning up the streets.
But despite these favorable odds, tour organizers ran into some trouble booking large enough venues. Some feared the independent artists didn’t have enough clout to fill the seats.
“We wanted to take people who were already hot underground and give them a hot tour, but at the beginning there was a lot of controversy because people thought we didn’t have a true headliner,” explained Terrence Huggins of T.H.E. Booking Agency. “But our first night sold out, the second show did very good numbers, and we proved a lot of people wrong.
Just because artists are underground doesn’t mean they aren’t really major players.”
The Hypnotized Tour, which also features Snook, Pleasure P (formerly of R&B group Pretty Ricky) and Princess of Crime Mob kicked off in Columbia, S.C. March 1, and travels across the South, Midwest and Northeast for the next two months. Unfortunately for us, the tour won’t be coming through Miami—a shame, seeing as how both Ross and Pleasure P hail from Florida.
Ross is from Miami. Pleasure is from West Park.
Asked how growing up in Miami affected his style, Ross said, “It’s where I’m from. My whole style is Miami. That’s the MI-Yayo [drug slang for Miami], that’s what it is down there, that’s who the music hits, and most definitely you hear it in everything we do.”
Despite the negative perception of Southern “trap” music, with its focus on drug dealing and crime, Ross has no qualms about enjoying his successes.
“It feels good just to see that grind pay off in the streets and people appreciate your mind, and the love that you put into the project… It took me ten years, a decade on the grind to reach Number One,” Ross said.
Huggins is looking forward to adding stops to the 15-city roster, and as they enter different markets, they will also seek out rappers from those areas.
“[Hip hop] music is universal throughout the entire United States,” Huggins said. “So while we definitely want the fans to be able to see Rick Ross and the other stars, we’ll be reaching out to artists as we come to their area and adding some shows in May and June, depending on how the momentum grows.”
The tour is also looking to do some philanthropical work, planning free appearances at schools and colleges, as well as for Boys and Girls of America Clubs.