Mock wrestling, a string of surprise performances and A$AP Rocky wearing a babushka all night long—what more could one want? All of this and more was delivered to the huge crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, Jan. 17, marking Yams Day 2019 as an event impossible to forget.
Now in its fourth year, Yams Day has always boasted a night full of partying and high energy performances. A$AP Mob put on the first annual Yams Day in 2016 at Terminal 5 to honor the life and legacy of A$AP Yams (real name Steven Rodriguez), the mastermind behind A$AP Mob and founder of A$AP Worldwide, who died in 2015 due to a drug overdose. The event, like the Mob, has become bigger and more notorious every year, and 2019 was no exception.
This year Yams Day was wrestling-themed, as A$AP Yams was a big fan of professional wrestling. The set was complete with a mock ring for performances and championship belts with “Yams Day” and renderings of A$AP Yams himself on them that were eventually thrown into the crowd. Like any good show, wrestling or otherwise, Yams Day 2019 had a lot of highs—and a couple of lows. Here’s the breakdown of everything that went down, from the good to the bad to the ugly.
Arguably the best part of the night was the sheer number of surprise guests that the Mob brought out, including Flatbush Zombies, Joey Bada$$, NAV, Metro Boomin, Lil Yachty and more. A personal favorite appearance was Soulja Boy, who has had a lot of social media attention recently after calling out Drake, Kanye West and other popular rappers in an interview with The Breakfast Club just days before his Yams Day surprise performance. Soulja performed two of his biggest hits “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)” and “Pretty Boy Swag” before claiming that he had the “biggest comeback of 2018” (granted, it was already 2019 at the time but I guess whatever Young Draco says goes). Now that I’ve seen the actual Soulja Boy dance the Soulja Boy, I think I, along with the rest of the crowd at the Barclays, can rest easy.
Another huge surprise guest didn’t come out until A$AP Mob’s closing set when A$AP Rocky brought out Meek Mill. The Philly-born rapper performed hits “Going Bad,” “Uptown Vibes” and “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)” to an ecstatic crowd. Flacko himself closed the show with his popular track “Praise The Lord (Da Shine),” and the rest of the Mob came to join him for the night’s final song “Yamborghini High,” dedicated to A$AP Yams.
About halfway through the night, A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg brought out A$AP Yams’s mother, real name Tatianna Paulino but affectionately referred to as “Mama Yams” by all the performers onstage. Paulino gave a heart-warming speech about her son, his legacy and the kindness of the rest of the Mob.
“When I lost my son, I gained a whole new family, which includes all of you!” she said to the crowd, who responded with boisterous cheers and the chant, “A$AP! A$AP!”
The energy of both the performers and the crowd was palpable and didn’t waver throughout the nearly five-hour long show. A$AP Rocky acted as the facilitator most of the night, introducing performers, explaining A$AP Yams’s legacy and keeping the audience hyped the entire time while also throwing himself into the crowd on more than one occasion. Also, did I mention A$AP Rocky was up there for all five hours wearing a babushka while chanting periodically, “Babushka boi”? (If you haven’t already seen the photo of him wearing the Gucci scarf tied around his chin, please do). If that’s not enough of a reason for Yams Day 2019 to be a success, I don’t know what is.
While Yams Day 2019 was overall a highly enjoyable experience, there were some parts of the night that, while not totally bad were certainly unexpected, especially for a Yams Day first-timer. The main issue of the night was logistics and timing. There was often much lag time in between performers, which was mainly due to moving people on and off the stage and wrestling ring. At one point, A$AP Rocky had to repeatedly ask everyone to clear the stage before bringing Paulino out, which was at least a 15-minute process in which the audience was just watching people slowly filter offstage.
At one point in the night, there looked to be about 30 to 40 people onstage, milling about while the performers took to the platform extending from the main stage. While it’s likely that these were fellow performers, media people and entourage members crowding the stage, there seemed to be no purpose for them being there other than slowing down the timing of the show.
Around 11:30 p.m., a curtain fell over the stage, completely obstructing it from view. For a while there was confusion from the crowd—what was going on? Was the show over? Many audience members began to leave. After a nearly 30-minute break, the curtain rose to reveal an innovative stage design for A$AP Mob’s incredible last set. While the final performances made it well worth the wait, there was no communication with the audience about any of this. The wrestling ring, which was situated far from the main stage, could have been used for performances while the stage was being set up. The show also didn’t end until 12:30 a.m., making it a long but memorable night with performances beginning at 8 p.m.
Another unexpected part of the night was many of the artists that A$AP Mob advertised would be at Yams Day 2019 didn’t end up coming, such as Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Young Thug and Tyler, the Creator among others. However, the Mob got so many other incredible guest performances that these missing acts weren’t necessarily a bad part of the night but rather a surprising part.
When putting together such an ambitious show, it’s to be expected that not everything will go according to plan. The timing and logistics issues didn’t take away from the overall energy and experience of the night, however, making Yams Day 2019 a success despite some of its missteps.
The only major downfall at Yams Day 2019 was Ski Mask the Slump God’s performance. Ski Mask had been advertised as one of the main performers at the event since it was first announced, and many audience members were excited to see him. Ski Mask did perform, but it wasn’t the most riveting performance. He began in the wrestling ring with the rest of the Mob and their entourage, asking the crowd to throw up X’s for his late friend and collaborator, the controversial XXXTentacion before their rowdy song “Take A Step Back” boomed over the sound system.
After a not-quite-successful crowd surf, Ski Mask made it to the main stage, where his songs “BabyWipe,” “LaLa” and “Catch Me Outside” played. However, Ski Mask didn’t attempt to rap along to these songs at all but rather let his tracks play while he ran around the stage and attempted to start mosh pits. While he definitely brought a good energy, it wasn’t a Ski Mask performance but rather like watching Ski Mask party to his own songs. After a second semi-successful stage dive, Ski Mask ended his set and was helped offstage, leaning on someone for support.
While other guest performers would come on and off the stage even after their performances were over to hang out with the Mob and party with the audience, Ski Mask never returned to the stage, making his appearance quite short. While Ski Mask’s mediocre performance definitely didn’t detract from the overall good energy of Yams Day 2019, it was unfortunate for his fans.
Overall, Yams Day 2019 was a success full of incredible performances, high energy and heartfelt intentions. It’s clear from this event that A$AP Yams’ legacy will not only continue to live on but will become bigger with every passing year. For any A$AP Mob fan—or really hip-hop fanatic of any kind—going to at least one Yams Day performance is a definite must.
Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.