Plenty of shows have occurred in Halifax with fair attendance and little to no buzz at the venue. This was not the case this past Saturday night at the Scotiabank Centre as lines were snaking all around the building for the hotly anticipated Lil Tjay show. It may have even exceeded the chaos ahead of Shania’s June visit to the city.
The significant difference is that Lil Tjay has yet to achieve household name status. Talk to anyone over the age of 35, and you get this blank puzzle stare, but talk to anyone under that age and their excitement is palpable. When the announcement came out, it was time to dig into the story of Lil Tjay to find out why this was such a big get for Halifax, and why it was quickly becoming a sell-out show.
The NYC-based rapper (nee Tione Jayden Merritt) started out by making a name for himself on SoundCloud when he was just 16. As his stock climbed, major labels started courting him, eventually leading to a deal with Columbia Records. In those early months of his career, he quickly racked up more than 1 million plays on SoundCloud; fast forward to 2019 and his track “F.N.” reached 56th on Billboard’s Hot 100. Lil Tjay’s subsequent singles “20/20”, and “Zoo York” both hit the Hot 100 at spots 94 and 65 respectively in 2020. Then the following year, Lil Tjay collaborated with 6lack on the track “Calling My Phone” which debuted at number 3 on the Hot 100.
In June of 2022, the young emcee was a victim of an attempted robbery and was shot 7 times. His recovery took a couple of months, but by late August of that year, he dropped his single “Beat the Odds” which recapped the ordeal. The rapper continued to drop singles and EPs which eventually led to his July 2023 release of the album 222.
All of that to say, the legend of this young emcee only continues to grow. While Gen X was off celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Gen Z was packed into the Scotiabank, (some in seats, and those in the General Admission section looking more like sardines), ready to rap along with Lil Tjay and his ever-growing catalogue of music.
While I’m sure there were more than a few confused parents in attendance for the high-energy performance of Lil Tjay, some may have heard some familiarity as his sound isn’t that far off from some elder statesmen of the genre like Usher and Drake, just with a heavier dose of autotune (to a degree that it would make even T-Pain blush). But this wasn’t a show that was meant for the older demographics, this was a show for the younger crowd.
Lil Tjay and his opener (Toronto-based rapper) Killy kept the energy up and knocked this one out of the park. From the smiles and enthusiasm emanating from the concert-goers throughout the night and long before they entered the venue, it was one they won’t soon forget.