Who the Fuck reads concert reviews? I don't... shits dumb. But I'm writing this anyway because my ears are still ringing from last night and I can't hear the damn TV yet. I'm a jaded old fucker who, in terms of hip hop, thinks he has seen not "it all", just most. I saw Public Enemy on new years eve 1991 with Terminator X on a platform suspended from cables 25 feet above the stage for Christ's sake, so how are you going to impress me at a little bar in the west loop on a Friday night? It just so happens that ELmuthaFuckinP, KillermuthaFuckinMike, Mr. MuthaFuckin' eXquire and DesmuthaFuckinpot tore the Bottom Lounge a new asshole last night. Pun totally intended.
Most (99.9%) hip hop shows are boring. Some asshat DJ playing Dwyck and Paid in Full beforehand mixed in with whatever new hot shit and then a bunch of dudes walking back and forth on stage holding their nuts yelling unintelligibly into the mic. Simple formula, really, and it seems most MC's have followed it to the dismay of their fans. I spend most of my time thinking "did you even rehearse this shit bro?" or "maybe if I leave now, I can get back to Aurora in time for last call". Last night was a different story. Holy motherfuckinggoddamnshit was it a different story. Last night, this 34 year old, jaded, snobby, been-there-done-that half hippie/half hip hop dickhead got his fucking mind blown. Yes I got my mind blown by a hip hop show, and a week to the day I was tripping my face off on psilocybin in 107 degree heat while watching Trey Anastasio relentlessly rip solos from 30 feet away in the nicest outdoor music venue in the midwest. Hard act to follow? Nearly impossible.
The mythical creature known as Despot opened the show and swooped down upon the mic like a Bald Eagle with an American Flag doo-rag and heart full of hate would on an unsuspecting salmon swimming upstream. I once thought that he was only this kid we would talk shit to on defjunkies.com about never having an album out. Turns out dude is a real, living, breathing human being. OR IS HE?!?! The following are all true statements (because I had a chance to talk to him briefly after the show as he was trying to not talk to me and get on the the goddamn bus): Despot doesn't have a hype man. Despot will never have a hype man. Despot doesn't use backing vocals in case he falls off (because he doesn't fall off). Despot doesn't punch in, when he's in the studio, ever. Despot doesn't really even write rhymes based on how easy or difficult they would be to perform live. Despot has incredible breath control. Despot just might be the realest MC on the face of the planet. Not the played out "yo I'm real, yo" but real in the sense that he is what every MC should hope to be. Dope in the studio, even doper live. Dude was cracking jokes between songs and at one point, had most of the crowd doing aerobics. It keeps him in shape. He played all the shit I've already heard of his, and a couple new ones. Long Arm of the Law or whatever the name of the new song about cops is, is fucking spectacular. Despot, if you're reading this, please email me that shit (email@example.com). I swear it won't leave my iPod. I need it, like now. He didn't yell into the mic during his rappps and if butter could make sounds, it would sound like Despot's set. Despot is the Honey Badger of MC's, and he just doesn't give a shit.
A piss, a cigarette and a couple IPA's later, eXquire gets on stage. Not as flawless as Despot, but he's too passionate to deliver his rhymes the same way. Dude ripped it just as nicely though and showed Chi-town some love with Good pussy in Chicago. He did the Huzzah pt. 2 verse and to my surprise, did that one LONG segment in one breath like the studio version. Holy shit this muthafucker has skills, not like that's news or something. To the delight of the crowd, he did take his shirt off, much like Nelly, despite his big belly. Looks like he's been losing weight though, which concerns me. Hopefully his mom will call to make sure he's eating well, but I can imagine that when you bust your fucking ass like that on tour every night, that gut will start to disappear. I was dying for a Lou Ferigno's MAD but didn't get it. The set was still dope as all hell though, and after all that jumping around during The Rocketeer, we were primed and ready for Killa Kill to take the stage. Mr. MuthaFuckin' eXquire is going to have a long, lucrative career, and we haven't seen anything yet. I can't wait to watch this cat progress. He's next level, confirmed.
By the time Mike came on, I was admittedly shitfaced. Like the "I don't care if I'm bumping into your girl repeatedly, I'm going fucking insane right now regardless" shitfaced. Mike opened up with Untitled and did so many songs/guest verses that I lost count. The crowd lost it completely when he uttered the first words of Big Beast and something that resembled a mosh pit opened up in front of the stage. I'm typically not cool with that whiteboy bullshit, but it was more than appropriate at that point. The whole place was bugging out, and after a long week of working 9-5's and dealing with 100 degree heat, it was time to let loose. Mike is just an infectious person. The larger-than-life persona he seems to have carries itself out on stage. He was in complete control the whole time and an absolute professional. The crowd responded to his every move and did more bouncing and jumping than I've ever seen at a hip hop show. Mike was grinning ear to ear... he was killing it and knew it cuz' dude is a BOSS. EL came up for Butane, thank god, and gave us a quick preview of his tour form. I was yelling "Ric Flair!" and got it. AND THEN... oh boy, and then the Kryptonite beat dropped and the place went apeshit. If you're from Atlanta, you refer to your city as the "A". However, if you're from Aurora, Illinois (2nd largest city in IL represent!), you may also refer to your city as the "A". This is the shit we bump every day on the east and west sides out here, and Mike destroyed the first three verses. "I be on that shit that'll have you on that 'I don't want no mo'". Fuck. Yes.
After a much needed longer setbreak, more cigarettes in the oppressive heat, and a few more IPA's, it was El Producto's turn. My homie Casey and I were hoping to hear Cancer for Cure front to back, and that's exactly what we got. El took the stage with The Mighty Quinn, Wilder Zoby, Little Shalimar and did NOT disappoint. It usually isn't that entertaining to hear someone run through their album like that, but with C4C, different story. I've heard that album in its entirety at least 100 times already, and the anticipation of every song was fucking awesome. Request Denied is the opener of ALL openers, especially when The Full Retard is next. That's the livest I've ever seen a hip hop show in my life and I've easily seen 100 of them. I forgot about looking cool and jumped up and down with everyone else, because Fuck looking cool, I'm a fan, not a rapper. Camu was smiling down on us from wherever he is right now, and I can imagine that he couldn't have been more proud. "So you should pump this shit like they do in the future" is one of my favorite lines of his or anyone else's, and to hear the entire crowd screaming it at the top of their lungs was goosebump-inspiring. He did EVERY song off the album, but the highlight was Tougher Colder Killer, which I honestly consider to be, in my humble opinion, one of the most perfect songs of any genre ever recorded. Killer Mike and Despot came back on stage to slay their verses, and El continued on his path of live dominance. He closed with an emotional $4 vic and came back out for a three song encore. I was slightly disappointed we didn't get a Huzzah Remix encore with Despot and eXquire, but apparently EL doesn't actually know his verse on that song, which is surprising because it was the verse of the year 2011. It's probably a good thing though, because I don't know if that building would have been able to withstand that type of abuse.
If you didn't already catch my drift, this show was one for the ages. I'm not sure if every city gets the same treatment we do, all I know is Chicago got lucky. Every person that walked on that stage left everything they had on it. These cats are all true professionals and it showed from the moment the stage lights came on. They put in work like they were going for the "employee of the year award 'at a shitty warehouse job for a $1 an hour raise and I've never seen anything like it. There were no weak spots, no boring moments, no "oh I can go take a piss during this song/set" situations. It was 2+ hours of pure hip hop bliss and after paying $25 to get my ears blown out, I still feel like I owe them something. If they come to your town, sell your family heirlooms, your ass, your car, your kicks... whatever you have to do to get there. Then take the rest of what you have left and buy merch and give a humble "thank you" to whoever you see on your way out.