Thursday, July 12, 2012

El-P (Bottom Lounge - July 6, 2012)

Building upon two critically acclaimed albums, rapper/producer El-P delivered a set inside Bottom Lounge that truly rivaled the 103-degree weather earlier on Friday. In his second appearance this year (the first being with his mid-late 90's collective, Company Flow in June), El-P treated the audience to a full performance of his recent album, Cancer 4 Cure, along with a few classics and bringing with him three impressive supporting acts.

An early pick for many "best of" lists, Cancer 4 Cure comprised the bulk of El-P's headlining set. In a live setting, the album offers a heavier variation filled with synth effects that bubble and gurgle underneath the beats and presented by an artist that has truly mastered his craft. From the intro to "Request Denied" to the encore closing "Deep Space 9mm," the Brooklyn native tightly gripped the microphone as he released waves of rhymes that served as a declaration of the rhymer's intent to get the crowd moving. With each verse, the audience followed suit by rhyming back verses, bopping their heads and dancing to the beats coming from the synths, guitar and keytar facing them and played with machine gun precision.

With the new album serving as his backdrop, El-P took great use of having his tour mates providing their guest spots during his set. Killer Mike and Despot traded off spectacular verses with their host during "Tougher Colder Killer" while Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire ran through his verse and tag teamed on the bombastic sounds of "Oh Hail No." Even Mr. Killums, the one eyed, drunk driving, mischievous squirrel, from the video for "The Full Retard" came out and served as a mascot for the set while the heavy beats pumped around him. It was these same beats and excellent songs that made (and makes) El-P's set so impressive. It's as if each track while carefully crafted in the studio was originally envisioned for a live setting. Couple that with his impassioned delivery, especially on the crowd pleasing closer, "Deep Space 9mm," that provided a memorable closing performance to a great evening that honored the underground sound.

Atlanta native Killer Mike's 45-minute set served as a thank you to the fans for supporting his career and his new album (R.A.P. Music which was produced by El-P) as well as a hip hop sermon. Delivered in his Southern drawl, Mike's set drew from his recent classic as well as singles like "Ric Flair" from PL3DGE . Throughout these numbers, the rapper moved across the stage with an authority that comes from his opposing size as well as his overall refreshingly outspoken, militant stance toward governments past and present. Opener "(Untitled)" set the pace for a strong set that included El-P doing his guest spot on "Butane," a reminder of his great guest appearances on Bonecrusher's "Never Scared" and Outkast's "The Whole World" and closing number performed in the audience with photographers capturing his time in "gangland," as he called the audience lingering to his words and music.

Despot and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire opened evening's performances with a pair of energetic 25-minute sets. Brooklyn rapper Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire may have a hard time getting over with his brilliant name but his performance, without a doubt, his strongest asset. Opener "Michael Dudikoff" came off more of an explosion unlike it's more laid back bass and snare studio version and even ended with him kicking the air. Within a matter of minutes, his shirt was off and he proceeded to bounce around the stage like a man half his size and height and never missing a beat with the audience and Despot, who came out to assist for a song.

While on Definitive Jux, Despot reminded the audience of one notable, possibly forgotten, mention in that he never released an album for the label. That is unfortunate as he could have truly delivered a late era Def Jux classic as his performance combined a sound that was part indie hip hop mixed with some hard, thumping beats. His voice wove through the beats and led to a charismatic performance that also included a brief and humorous aerobic routine. His set provided a stunning opening to, undoubtedly, the best hip hop tour of the summer.





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