Live: Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T., And More Light Up Santos Party House
Better Than: Stealing your roommate's weed and watching Stella on DVD all night. Again.
The weather in New York has stayed fairly dreary for the past week or so, and last night even the air inside Santos Party House was, in the words of Curren$y, "partly cloudy." The self-proclaimed hot spitta headlined a bill of seven rappers -- most notably Big K.R.I.T. and Smoke DZA -- as part of a tour sponsored in part by High Times. Hence the haze.
The opening three rappers all gave adequate performances, though none were exceptional. The first two, New Orleans newcomer Corner Boy P and veteran Fiend, worked better as a pair than as individuals; Pittsburgh's Boaz managed to be upstaged by the crew behind him throwing rolling papers into the crowd. Mac Miller then became the evening's first rapper to engage the audience more through his music than his weed adlibs, despite one of his songs sampling, yes, Owl City. Intensity continued to slowly build as Smoke DZA, the lineup's lone New Yorker, took the stage, inviting up a handful of artists ranging from his "friend Curtis" to the Kid Daytona.
Although K.R.I.T.'s production and rapping both scream "Dirty South" (and despite being booed offstage here in New York just a few months ago), his music is lately filled with features that could win over even the most New York-centric crowd (for instance, the a capella culmination to "Children of the World."). Still, this misrepresents him, because like it or not -- and during his set the notion of not liking it was almost unthinkable -- K.R.I.T. is about, as one song puts it, "Country Shit," both his production and his lyrics drawing from a distinct Southern tradition hailing groups like UGK (Pimp C in particular) and Outkast. He's also a menace onstage, striding toward the audience like a linebacker approaching the line of scrimmage. Last night, his set was fairly brief and contained songs exclusively off his second and most recent mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. His time on stage climaxed with an energetic rendition of none other than "Country Shit" and finished with the aforementioned "Children of the World," both received warmly this time, much of the audience even rapping along to the latter when the beat dropped out.
This prepared the crowd for Curren$y, who, trusting his fans to know his lyrics, would frequently order DJ/producer Ski Beatz to cut off his instrumentals midway through. Although Beatz, he of "Dead Presidents" and Camp Lo fame, might give New York traditionalists a point of entry into the New Orleans rapper's recent work, last night's performance was all about the emcee himself. Curren$y began by gliding through some songs he's recorded over the last couple of years ("Elevator Music" and "Modern Day Hippie" standing out), juxtaposing nonchalance (acting out the lyrics to his rhymes) with intense focus (he was truly dedicated to said acting, swatting wannabe pilots out of the sky on "King Kong" and pulling Nicki Minaj-style faces during almost everything else), just as he does on record.
In terms of atmosphere, both parts of the name "Smoker's Club" ended up being appropriate. For most of the night, rappers, friends, and weed-carriers lined the stage, occasionally being called back to the center to perform a song or two. Meanwhile, Curren$y and Damon Dash sat above in their treehouse of a DJ booth. Even after the headliner came down to perform, this feeling of camaraderie persisted. Fittingly, once he ran through a series of songs from his recent Pilot Talk, Curren$y jumped off the stage and exited directly through the crowd. The room -- and now some memories as well -- remained hazy, but fans of the sky-high rapper would want it no other way.
Critical Bias: Didn't realize Fiend still existed, but might have been one of five people in the crowd to realize Fiend ever existed.
Overheard: "Yo! Cannibal Corpse is gonna be hear next month!"
Notebook Dump: Just caught one of Boaz's rolling papers, embarrassed that I have nothing to put inside.