On a Saturday night at 1st Ward, an intimate Chicago concert venue set in the back of a hybrid butchery/deli/bar, the first signs of a party began to erupt.
DJ OGWebbie hovered behind his turntables spinning a Migos-heavy set of club bangers, warming the crowd up for what was to come. Couples swayed together and old friends caught up with each other over drinks as the room started to fill up.
My friend Matt and I stood by the merch table pondering if we wanted the navy or off-white crewneck, both with the same purple text hand-stitched across the chest: “Honegloria”.
We were in the midst of Ibn Inglor’s first-ever headlining show, no doubt a milestone in any artist’s career. The Chicago rapper started making waves with his debut GawdsSpeed and New Wave mixtapes in 2013 and dropped his first official LP, Honegloria, just last year. After months of building anticipation, Ibn was just minutes away from hitting the stage.
Suddenly, the lights dimmed and the room went black. The haunting first notes of The Beatles’ “Because” crept in through the speakers. A dark shadow stepped onto the stage and stopped behind the mic. Then a faint white light revealed Ibn, and he launched into his opening track, “So Alive”.
Accompanied by DJ OGWebbie and his producer Arran Sym on guitar, the three artists gave the heavy, dark textures of Honegloria new life. One thing Ibn looked forward to in the months leading up to tonight was the opportunity to have full control over how the show sounded and looked.
Ibn said, “a month after Honegloria dropped, I knew people had to hear it live to really appreciate it. I really wanted to bring people into the world of me and what I do,” Ibn said in an interview after the show. He continued, “with this show, I actually got to be on stage and yell how I wanna yell, move how I wanna move and control the crowd how I want.”
On the track “Not My King”, the energy in the room really matched that of the record. Ibn counted down just before the song dropped, and then jumped across the stage while everyone in the crowd followed along. Chants turned into an uproar as a blaring synth zoomed in and out of the mix. Ibn emphasized that performing with live instruments as opposed to just an MP3 really emphasized how far he could push his music, adding, “I get to bring a lot more emotion–I didn’t have to tone it down.”
As the night went on, Ibn added in songs from his earlier mixtapes, a decision dedicated to those who have been with him since day one. He also debuted a track called “Chase The Night”, forcing himself out of his comfort zone by singing the hook himself. This new material will likely be part of a project Ibn plans to release later this year.
“We’ve been working on it for the past 3 weeks. We were gonna try to at least record the hook in the green room before the show, but we ended up being like ‘fuck it just do it live’. For the people tonight who have been following me for awhile, I wanted to show them that we’re still working and building on top of what we already started.”
Ibn closed the night with one of his earliest tracks, and a fan favorite, “Song For Bitches”. He announced, “I need everyone who requested this song tonight to come up here right now!” As his friends climbed up on stage to join him, the concert turned into a celebration; the entire room vibed together for this last memorable moment.
With the show closing and the afterparty starting, Ibn made his rounds walking through the crowd to thank everyone for coming out. His whole entourage surrounded him the whole time, including his mom. He greeted each person he saw with a hug whether it was a friend, a fan, or someone who’d never even heard of him before.
“I gave everyone a hug tonight and I really meant it because I really appreciated everybody coming out. We planned this show 2 months ago, and it feels like it was just yesterday. I don’t think I was prepared to have so much support because it’s been a long road,” he explained.
A long time in the making, this night marked a critical point for Ibn and his team. This show gave the first real glimpse into the world Ibn Inglor has been building for awhile now, leaving the audience reassured that this was only the beginning of something promising.