With Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Stalley, Fly Union, and others
Fillmore Miami Beach
September 27, 2012
Better Than: Sitting at home reading other people's Tweets
about BET's Music Matters Tour with Black Hippy boss Kendrick Lamar.
We arrived at the Fillmore Miami Beach about 30 minutes after the advertised start-time
to find an incredibly punctual mass of sweaty and buzzed young adults.
A duo called Fly Union was warming up the ready-to-rage crowd.
One MC sounded like Jay-Z, the other Eminem, and the production
occupied that curious crossover between Cash Money belligerence and
neo-classical "old-school" Blackstar-style backpack rap.
Despite the openers' relative anonymity, especially compared to the rest of the
acts on the tour, the party's revelers clearly asserted early in the
night that it gave not a fuck about Thursdays or if they even knew who
they were watching: These kids came to rage.
In between acts, the majority of the crowd would remain parked in
front of the stage, puffin' Swishers and chuggin' $11 plastic sippy
cups of Rum Punch, while the host cracked rap jokes and demanded
people follow him and his DJ on Twitter.
In fact, every single person
that held a microphone last night not only plugged their digital
avatars - a reasonable, contemporary means of promotion - but sternly
demanded that the audience whip out their Everything Boxes and
methodically subscribe to every last Tumblr or drip-drip-drop
of Facebook diarrhea.
Suddenly, the lights started flickering, gunshots blasted and a siren
whined. The lady who says "Maybach Music" came over the speakers and
everyone on stage started freaking out like Rick Ross was about to
show up. But it was Stalley.
Following two rappers with a highly
similar style (the aforementioned non-Swag gangsta-pack fusion),
Stalley's performance came off redundant and bare. The Bawse's protégé
knows how to lay it down in the studio. But last night, we weren't
quite convinced that the MC had separated himself from the mob when it
comes to his live performance.
Jay Rock was just as monotonous as Stalley. But Ab-Soul provided the evening's biggest deviation from form and one of the night's most engaging sets, looking like Snoop when he still went by Dogg, sippin' "Gin and Juice" with Kendrick Lamar's Grand Poobah sensei: Dr. Dre.
Soul's style - which resonates with his tourmates as a fusion of pop-rap stupidity
and that neo-classical "old-school" production - managed to go beyond the
evening's default stylistics. We felt that most of the night suffered
from the monochromatic blandness of The Rapper Shout. But Ab-Soul
shook up his intonation with a grace that recalled (in form rather
than specific style) the golden age of Weezy.
He even snuck a little Swag in the mix via a smattering
of bangers that fell somewhere between the Internet-y New Age
production of select Lil' B and the bass-heavy, screwed-up Southern
Rap-obsessed style of A$AP Rocky.
The bass worship didn't stop there. From the moment Kendrick Lamar
took the stage, the Fillmore's sound system was exploiting the
powerful low-end capabilities available in the Age of Dubstep. While
the pounding sent a shock up (down?) our happy trail, the mix
maintained crystal clarity, unlike some other amateurishly thunderous
rap concerts we've seen at The Fillmore.
However, unlike other hip-hop shows we've reviewed, the audience
seemed to indulge a reverence for Lamar that's usually reserved for
Tweeny-bopper heartthrobs and heads of state. Women screamed. Men
stood at attention and chanted "Kendrick! Kendrick!"
And while extreme and ridiculous, the adulation was not entirely
undeserved. Ripping through hit after hit, the MC appeared to
push his level of performance like an athlete on the field or a
soldier at war. He frequently burst into scat-style improvisation and
reworking of lyrics. And, yes, he demanded everybody add him on
The Crowd: Scandalously dressed underage girls, scandalously
dressed women, hipster-hoppers, regular rap dudes, concert norms,
Ladies Night!!!!!!!!, bros, bros inexplicably dressed to the nines in
Ultra gear, blunt smoking machines, and a trick giving a lap dance
Overheard In The Crowd: Every other line of every song every
time the DJ cut the music for the part where the audience is supposed
to sing along. These party animals knew their shit.
From The Stage: "Make some noise if you fucked up! Now raise yo
hand if you sober. OK, now boo them niggas for being sober!!"
Best Snack Deal at The Fillmore: $4 soft baked cookies. Still
extravagant, but more proportionally priced than a $6 hot dog.
Personal Bias: It's true, we do have Maybach Music on our iTunes.
Random Detail: We hope marijuana stays illegal forever because
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the second Obama gives grass the thumbs up, we know LiveNation is
going to be selling Mids at Chronic prices.