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Backstage At Bric’s Birthday Party, A Lesson In Loyalty.

Modern Rap Is Obsessed With Fast Rises, But Saturday’s Big-Name Celebration Of A Key Behind-The-Scenes Player Showed How Slow And Steady Still Win The Race.

In a 2015 interview with “The Breakfast Club,” Charlamagne Tha God asks Curren$y why he left No Limit Records and Young Money Records considering how working with either of those entities, let alone both, would represent the peak accomplishments in most rappers’ careers.

Without hesitation, the New Orleans native casually answered that, while he was recording music with the artists on those rosters, he found himself rapping about things he had no intention of maintaining in his everyday life. In his mind, he’d always envisioned a career filled with far more chill crowds. Ideally, Curren$y explained, that meant sold-out crowds of people throwing fruit snacks, joints and bras onto the stage.

Living like some sort of mafioso and feeling like he needed security guards in random crowds just didn’t appeal to him. Instead, he decided to be completely honest with himself. And, since then, the universe has rewarded him with a prolific and abundantly successful career. These days, the impresario of Jet Life has earned the kind of loyal following that will allow him to pack out a venue on just seven days’ notice.

That was the case this past Saturday night, anyway, as Curren$y headlined the Deep Ellum venue Canton Hall for a special edition of Dallas’ ongoing Bric’s Block Party series. In addition to sets from Curren$y, this latest edition in the series saw New Orleans rapper Fendi P, Atlanta rapper Larry June and a number of local luminaries linking up to celebrate the birthday of the Dallas-area show promoter and behind-scenes rap mover-and-shaker Mason “Bric” LaDue.

Taking the stage at the end of the night, Curren$y’s headlining performance boasted an expected air of celebration. Some missed the obvious cues, though: As the rapper acknowledged a birthday cake sitting on the stage and spoke with reverence of his longtime friendship with Bric, a well-versed fan threw several packs of fruit snacks onto stage, much to Curren$y’s delight but to the confusion of Jet Life recording artist TY, who had joined his boss onstage and saw what was meant as a gift as some sort of insulting affront. To calm the self-proclaimed Son of a Gangsta, Curren$y turned the ambiguous moment into lessons on the unnecessary headaches of always being so serious and on striving to find humility. Then he kept the party going.

If you listen to any artist, you’ll unearth life lessons in their work. But Curren$y’s prolific catalog is of a different breed. That mindset also extends to the company he keeps. Earlier in the night, the Jet Life artist Fendi P (formerly known as Corner Boy P) offered up performances of tracks from his debut Late Nights, Early Mornings album — songs like “Wit My Left” and “Lil Baby,” each of which feature a signature Louisiana flare. But it’s one song from that impressive debut that was missing from his set list on Saturday that perhaps best sums up the tenets of Jet Life. “No Weapons Formed Against Me” is a gritty track about remaining true to yourself when your back’s against the wall. It’s about remaining loyal to your tribe throughout.

“It’s important to talk about trust and loyalty because it lacks,” Fendi P explained about track backstage, shortly after his performance wrapped. “Everybody’s trying to see if you can do something for them or get them plugged to the right person, but you gotta respect the craft first. You gotta have morals to protect the craft and keep the essence of hip-hop great. At the end of the day, it’s all about the craft.”

That sentiment resonated from all the performers who took the stage Saturday night. They each delivered their unique brand of hip-hop, from the lively Larry June expounding the benefits of his organic lifestyle and hacking social norms with his signature “Good job, Larry!” catchphrase to Dallas’ own G.U.N., Devy Stonez, Uno Loso, bemyfriend and Mel of The Outfit, TX providing a sample of the city’s own essence.

As Curren$y finished his 60-minute set just ahead of the venue’s curfew, he put his money where his mouth is and walked right into the crowd, offering photos, signatures and impactful words for any and all left in the room. That kind of leadership by example was more than enough evidence to see why Curren$y is in charge of his own domain these days — even if that’s not necessarily how he sees things.

“In Jet Life, nobody’s the boss,” he explained after the party ended, as he and his crew made their way to their rides away from the venue. “At the end of the day, everybody is the CEO of their own situations. We’re not sitting at a long table; we’re sitting at a round table with nobody at the head of it.”

Those are the standards — and Fendi P knows what’s at stake. He’s in control of his career, sharpening his irons, soaking up wisdom and plotting his moves. But outside of Jet Life, that moral code isn’t always spoken. We live in an era where it’s easier than ever to jump into the hip-hop world, and with the internet being the great equalizer, there’s a tendency to want to close the time gap between your launch and your dreams being realized faster than the last viral success story did. Of course, that can lead to foundations being built on layers and layers of shortcuts. In light of that, it feels as if now, more than ever, it’s important to surround oneself with people you can trust, or who’ve been through similar experiences, or who’ve been right there with you throughout the ride.

For all the artists on Saturday’s bill, Bric fits that description.

“Me and Bric been moving around since we were staying in motherfucking Days Inns, staying in the hotels where the rooms are outside,” Curren$y noted before leaving the venue for good on Saturday. “We were always on the road, doing shit like that. Now we doing big things, picking up dubs. If you don’t have motherfuckers that’s about the vision that you have, nothing’s gonna get off the ground.”

For all intents and purposes, Bric’s latest Block Party delivered on its promise to provide Dallas fans of the genre with a memorable night of hip-hop. But, behind the stage curtains, this special birthday edition of the concert series was more than that. There, it was a celebration of a man who’s dedicated his life to the game. And for a rare collective of artists like Jet Life to assemble for a moment like that? Well, it says a lot.

Of course, shortly after his own set, Fendi P said it even better: “On a regular day, I’m banging [Bric’s] line, and he’s on mine. He’s just one of those guys that have the loyalty, integrity and morals of what it takes to be a friend.”

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