Steve Austin, Headkrack, Sir James & Vitamin D, King

Sunday, November 22, at Liquid Lounge

What's a rapper to do when he opens a hip-hop concert to only eight people? In the case of Crossing Ellum's King, he offers the small crowd free champagne in Styrofoam cups. Though a kind gesture, it was hardly necessary, as King's charisma and delivery didn't require a drop of alcohol to hype the small crowd. Granted, his thug lyrics and hooks like "D-Town, bitch! Crime city of the South!" got old fast, but he saved the show with delivery that could send Xzibit crying home to mama. On the opposite side of the rap spectrum, horny stoners Sir James & Vitamin D were hopelessly stupid and proud of it. The duo fortunately rose above their middle-school humor, as sensitive statements like "I'm Caucasian, I like Asians and the little girl on the box of raisins" were boosted by a playful stage presence and sharp-tongued, Beastie Boys-loving rhyme trades.

As soon as James and D dropped their mikes, 97.9 FM's Headkrack pounced on the stage, but his roars didn't match his goofy "posse" who couldn't keep up with their MC's verbal attack. Though intense, Headkrack's act wore thin when his rhymes spent more time saying how good he was rather than proving it. Steve Austin's headlining set had the most deliberate style of the night, combining the softer inflection of Method Man with the harder bite of DMX. Still, when his first songs sounded only as good as the previous acts, Austin cut the backing music and dropped some delicious, a cappella freestyle, as if to remind himself that even a small crowd deserves a hot show. Headkrack and Dallas rapper Ness helped Austin finish the night with "It's a Monster," so head-noddingly good that Headkrack needs to spin it on his station. With Austin's recent deal with Tommy Boy Records, that may happen soon enough.

 
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