IT'S A CELEBRATION
This show was an important show for me for 2 reasons:
1. Alfred is my brother. I could end there, but I'm serious. One day we are gonna do a podcast, and talk about all our crazy tour stories over the last 2 years. Like how we got ran up on by some Danny Trejo lookin' cholo's in Denver and I had to talk that talk so we can pass through their hood, or when I almost died climbing up a hill in Knoxville, Tennessee. Then there was that one time we did a show in Memphis where the promoter paid us by Dominoes Pizza and allowing us to sleep in the venue we performed in, in one of the toughest hoods in the city. We know things about each other that we will take to the grave, and as much as I love him as a brother, I am just as much a fan of his music and grind.
Though I'm nearly 8 years older, I was a late bloomer finding myself as I entered my self in the NoLa Hip-Hop scene at age 25, while he was 17. I was probably on the same bill as him on like one of his 3rd shows ever. I'm not sure how we became friends, but we've been thuggin' on this underground grind for 10 years, talking at least every other day. We've been there for each other, we've gotten into it, squashed it, and got it back together, lent each other money when broke, helped each other get shows in different cities/states, and we've toured together every year since 2012. So when he asked me to do his homecoming show I was honored. We are each others' support system in this ugly fucking game of underground/indie rap, and we've leaned on each other for guidance and love when it felt like people hated us the most.
2. Another reason why I wanted to do this show so bad is because I have a bone to pick with the New Orleans Hip-Hop scene. The calendar year of 2018 was the first time in 9 years where I didn't do a show there. 0 people booked me there. Granted GrassRoots Nola is now defunct and alot of the heads who were there in the early to mid 2010's are no longer active, there are several artists and promoters who put on shows who know EXACTLY who I am, and what I do, and that I am so much better and more accomplished than I was back in the gap. Maybe they don't wanna pay me since the price of the brick went up, maybe there's some resentment because my career surpassed what they feel a underground conscious rapper from Baton Rouge was supposed to be doing? I don't know.
I just know I went from getting radio play heavy in NoLa, doing several interviews on different NoLa radio stations, opening for Mobb Deep, KRS One, Jay Electronica, & Common in NoLa, to not getting a fucking call or response about me doing ANYTHING in NoLa didn't sit right with me. So since I've leveled the fuck up, lost weight, entered an era where I'm performing better than I've ever been, I feel like I had something to prove to the New Orleans Hip-Hop scene.
Plus there was a nigga who used to hate on me back in the G that I knew was gonna be there, and I wanted to give him this work.
Good memory & petulance are first cousins. And I'm large as an elephant.
Because I've been bringing Alfred to BR as long as we've been thuggin', he has a fanbase there too. so when it was time to catch that slab, KP Soul, Joe Austin, and Mark Dub Part Man/Part Thug wanted to catch that slab too. And my dog Coop met us there. After Jr. Jr. gave me hell finding his apartment that he never game me the address too, we hop in the Rap Dad Minivan and slide to NoLa.
Pull up to the venue, I'm let in the side door by Rapbaum, the DJ for the night. There I see Steph from Nebraska, and his artist M Shah. We chop it up about who is and isn't a conscious rapper as I set up my merch table, until it's time to get something to eat. I order a beef hotdog & fries at the bar, then go to the green room to smash that bih as I catch up with Alfred.
After more chit chat, the crowd rolls in, and the night gets started with Al's childhood friend doing 1 song and an acapella. Next up is M Shah, who has a good first showing in Louisiana. I go back to my merch table to charge my phone as the next act is up, the host for the night tells me I'm next. He asks do I want an intermission in between songs, I tell him no, bring me straight up. He looks mad surprised. I'm dead ass.
I'm not here to play with none of these Nawlin's niggas tonight. Ya heard me?
FUCK ALL THE PRETTY SHIT
I'm introduced and brought out on stage, I tell Rapbaum that I'ma do my acapella first. I begin and stop after 4 bars. To be honest, I'm not sure why I stopped. I didn't forget the words, and I didn't necessarily stop on purpose. I was so tense I think I my body told me to start that bih over to make sure I wasn't gonna go so hard that I had a bad show. As a conscious artist I have to get them on my side early to make sure they are fully converted by the end of my set.
After I stop, and gather my thoughts, I walk to another spot on the stage and tell them, "I'm probably the only artist born in the 80's, and this is gonna be the angry Black rap portion of the night," and the crowd kinda looks puzzled. I start the verse again, pausing every 4 bars to let what I'm saying set in. I remember this from playing basketball. Sometimes we get so hype that we try to do everything at once instead of let the game come to us. Just do what we do in practice and be confident that all that hard work paid off.
And boy did it.
By the time I finished the acapella the conversion had began and I had them eating out my hands. Alfred's childhood friend and in house producer CZA has also produced for me, at least 3 joints, but he's never seen me perform any of his songs we've done together. So I open with a record he produced called "Bad Man," only to see the mf was not there.
I punched the crowd in the mouth with my aggressive Black ass soulful style and they were there for it all. Next was "Black God Fresh," and I can say I think it kinda caught them by surprise lol. I went from being really aggressive to doing a song that was more fun and "swagged out" where I'm kinda dancing a li'l bit, all while still kickin' that Black shit.
Now it's time for the "backpack section" of the night, and I teach the crowd the "too many wack rappers, not enough emcees" chant, which they got into. "Principles & Standards" comes on, the chant hits hard before the verse begins. I run through the verses with ease, ending with the "real emcees don't rap over vocals" call & response, and it goes over very well. I next put "Henry Clay" into context, also informing the crowd that it was produced by New Orleans production legend Prospek. Verses executed proper, hands in the air during the hook, all call & reponses hit home.
Now it's time to go political with "Hallelujah." I explain why the song is controversial, how it's gotten shows canceled, but how it's still my most popular song to date. After being given permission to slander ya'll puss ass POTUS, I proceed to go ALL THE WAY IN, and it hits hard. I once again preach about the atrocities that this administration is engaging in as it pertains to marginalized peoples, Puerto Ricans, and asylum seekers, damn near catching the full Holy Ghost, and the crowd is my Amen corner. I transition into "#FreeBLKPPL," and now I'm starting to feel "good." Flawlessly executed, feeling like everything I'm saying is hitting home to the crowd.
Normally I end with either "Cry Freedom" or "Stare & Whisper" as I open the doors the the church for altar call on the last song, but this time I opted to do "1Luv," my first "hit" record from back in 2010-2011 when me & Alfred was really first doing alot of shows together. It's also a song where I shout out New Orleans on the hook, so I was like "why not?"
Kids, listen. It's cool to go back into your catalog, but make sure you rehearse the song first, lol.
Mane, so I get the first verse off, and it goes well. There were alot of artists & people in the crowd that were around in both BR & NoLa when this song was buzzing for me, so it went well for me off rip. Then the 2nd verse begins. I get like the 4th bar and draw a blank. Luckily I see Truth Universal in the crowd saying the words with me to get me back on track. I shake the rest of the verse back, dividing the crowd in two having the left side repeat "1Luv," and then the right side do the same during the hook.
I have this theory about "muscle memory" and performing. The more you perform certain songs, your body kinda takes over and you begin to move in auto pilot. You don't worry where you're gonna step, take a breath, how you're gonna move your hands, none of that. Well, I've maybe performed this song 4 times in the last 4 years. Muscle memory was not on my side mane.
Bout half way through the last first verse I felt the gotdamn phlegm in the back of my throat building up, and since I don't know breathing points on this song like I would one of my other closers, I had know idea where to swallow. I had to options, skip a bar to swallow, or choke and start coughing on stage. And Black don't choke, so I picked a half a bar to gulp that bih down, and all the sudden my vocals felt clear af lol. Thank God I'm a dope crowd controller, because the hooks and the ending went well. This is not how I wanted to end this set in which I was operating at such a high level, but it is what it is.
And the end of the day the mf's seen what time it was, and the nigga who was hatin' on me back in the G got ran up out the room.
Alfred comes up after me and destroys it. He's on a completely different level as me at this point in our career. I'm the underground king who is God in mad B markets, and he travels the major cites in and out the country performing in front of thousands. And and we're still brothers who support each other, like we did on the road to those struggle shows years ago.
And my Fila outfit was lit as fuck.
VENUE: 5/5. 0 complaints.
CROWD: 5/5. I feel like I was treated with the respect I should be treated with, because I carried myself as a seasoned vet, and they responded as such. Joe said one white lady was a offended due to my #FDT chants to the point she left. If so, that lady is prolly racist, and can go kiss a baboon's ass fur.
SOUND: 5/5. Radric Davis. The clone even.
MERCH: 3.5/5. I didn't sell as much as I thought I would, so I was kinda disappointed. But the folk who did shop with me all told me they really connected with me. I feel I made new fans, so I guess it evens out.
Next Show: 6.29.19 in Jackson, Mississippi.