Friday, January 18, 2013
It was a rap show.
So in the tradition of rap shows, EVE was turned into a battleground state for real and/or true hip hop.
And Project Pat -- Three Six Mafia affiliate and Juicy J's real-life brother -- was the guest of honor.
When I showed up at 11:30 p.m., the outside stage looked like a block party thrown by The Duke. With a raspy squeal and penchant for building songs around jokey regular guy hooks ("I ain't even got a trap, I just get it poppin'" or "broke niggas with bitches"), someone was doing their best Trinidad James outside (but with no gold anything).
In the bunker room, an entirely different, more traditional thing was happening, as a trumpet player and drummer were putting on The Roots-meets-Rocky triumphalism in a space that appropriately looked like a Philly warehouse party.
The MC was getting people to wave their hands, before lecturing about "real lyrical hip-hop shit from the heart, do y'all fuck with lyrical hip hop?" And so came an aspirational chant called "Life Is But a Dream" over an Exhibit C beat, with the addition of Santa Esmeralda horns, before Kanye's "Power" beat was retrofitted for a song about the struggle to "Fight the..."
Outside, some other kind of fighting was going on, more of the powerviolence variety, as one dude was leading a one-man war against a variety of radio rap songs, I believe I was able to parse Drake's "Unforgettable" amid the hearty yells.
Back inside, a Latin trio named Bound by Blood offered positive bilingual raps and asked their tough-as-nails, bandana- and sunglasses-wearing female MC if she "got something you can spit something acapella and blow their wings off? Everyone give respect to a sister putting her grind in, fighting to get her voice heard."
It was touching and appropriate, given that the outside stage was getting progressively whiter and maler. There was Al Kush, looking like Jesse Pinkman in a mid-life crisis, rocked a variety of weed-in-the-club tracks only Jackie Chain could get away with. Then came Web 3, led by a pair of dudes who looked like Clone High versions of Keith Morris and Bret Michaels, their "Hello, Cleveland!" being "They say Miami don't have a scene, let's prove them wrong, y'all know how to get white boy wasted? Look at my tattoos!" They skipped their planned performance of a track called "Rock Girls" and found kinship with Trick Daddy's Ozzy-sampling "Yeah." Because, you know, tunnel vision.
They were followed by Pages and Kinetix, who started off by performing one of the night's longest running gags, i.e. convincing everyone they were hypemen and yelling "Y'all ready for Project Pat?" before bait-and-switching us with "Well, here's some real old-school hip-hop shit" and jumping on some old horned-out breakbeats as if Gunplay's Cops and Robbers didn't drop earlier in the day and blow away the distinctions between old/new/etc.
The Clone High vibe came back when RV†D#R KLVWN (sp?) came on and all the kids posted on couches in the back emptied half the audience and filled the stage, letting us know that "white motherfuckers better roll out." They were possibly the most appropriate opener at a Project Pat show, considering that their founder is a minister at the Church of Triple Six and their mission follows suit. But live, they had to perform unadorned by the mysterious Underground Vol. 1-aping tape hiss of their recorded fare.
As if worried about the vulnerability of the reveal, they huddled around the platform like it was a corner freestyle, ironically reminiscent of how A$AP MOB crowds Rocky. They led a series of call-and-responses to which the answer was obviously "We dooooo!" For instance, "Who fuck with 3-6?" Or, "Who wanna get drunk and violent?" Or, "Who play 007?"
Denzel Curry, the Klan's most able and versatile performer, started off the set. He told us to check him out on Twitter as "Raven x Miyagi, like the Chinese nigga." Then came Pouya, looking like a forgotten extra from Gummo, with the worldview of Telly from Kids.
Then it rained. The Klan persevered while the crowd moved inside, resulting in some alienated chatter: "It's just water, guys. Thanks to all those real people that stayed out here."
The bad weather caused some logistical problems that required Project Pat's set take place inside EVE too. It was 2 a.m. at this point, and a woman named 2 Chain Barbie stood on stage, insisting that she was part of the still not happening show, and was there with two other women in Pat's entourage. Meanwhile, our host gave us a "back in the days of Rakim" speech that sounded like a live reading of B. Dot's Twitter feed, before Chris Black went Rahzel and made mouth music while DJ Ashy Knuckles set up.
Again, "Y'all ready for Project Pat?" led to something else, in particular "trapstep" remixes of "On One" and "Geek'd Up" (AKA "All the fun of rap, without all that rap!") while a girl with white shorts, a tank top, and a half-shaved head took her indefatigable twerking (which had made appearances during various sets of the night) into a lapdance for Chris's birthday.
At 2:30, a Project Pat associate gave us copies of his solid new mixtape Cheez N' Dope. And ten minutes later, miracles happened, the seas parted, and Project Pat took the stage, kicking off with mythic, auto-bio mission statement, "Raised in the Projects." He mentioned that "Spaceghost Purrp is in the building," but hilariously didn't bring him out for any songs. It was a fascinating contrast, because Pat's stage presence was fairly spare, and without a RVID#R KIIVN-style crew was strong enough to give the impression the whole family was there. It was actually unfortunate he didn't perform alone, as his hypeman blared ADR-style over Pat's subtle vocal tics, from elastic syllable stretches to consonant pacing that makes it sound like he's double-timing and slowing down at the same time. He ran through a bunch of hits that reminded he's got his brother Juicy J's melodic affability, making every line sound like a hook in its own right. Given that Loud Pack and Cheez 'N' Dope are uncompromised in their Pat-ness, it's a wonder he's not sharing J's mini-rennaissance.
Like Dolemite laughing about an assailant's rhythm while shooting at his feet, Pat's got some of that menacing Rudy Ray Moore glee with lines like "Bullet to the chessst, open. heart. sur-ger-eee/Callin' on gawwd, like you the cler-ger-eee" (from "Burn Me a Nigga") or the dirty charm of "In the tub, playin rub-a-dub, I just say the word and her pussy open like sesame" ( from "This, That" sans Luda) while girls plucked from the crowd joyously twerked on stage.
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"Red Rum" came on and the lights went the same, Pat sounding more possessed than Danny Boy and Jack combined, and the beat sounding like a signal mothership. Ironically, there were no girls on stage during his rendition of "Twerk That," which made it sound like a grand campfire tale. He gave us the obvious, like "Good Googly Moogly" and "Chickenhead" and even dipped way back for "North North." But come 3:15, he was out of there, no encore. And given the coca-like jolt, none was really needed.
-- Adam Katzman