Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Brain Gang Blue, -topic, A.Dd+, Mohicans, Dre Marley The Door Friday, September 7
L.A. emcee Jay Rock took the stage Friday night following a downsized roster of homegrown artists, and established hype I've witnessed only from his Top Dawg Entertainment peer, Kendrick Lamar. While most emcees take a song or two to dial down the audience, Jay Rock's performance was equivalent to cardio, as he reveled in the opportunity to spit banger after banger to a crowd that drank in every ounce of energy he put out.
Then came Ab-Soul. In his first Texas headlining appearance, the California rapper invited the audience to join his musical journey, conscious of the flailing arms and a sea of hands held high with TDE's signature three-finger salute, but it was clear he was in a world all his own. When he launched into songs from this year's Control System, his voice was often drowned out by the buzz of hundreds singing along.
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Hands rose again (this time holding lighters and phones) as Ab-Soul choked on his words before paying tribute to singer Alori Joh, who passed away early this year. He made us feel every bar, every chorus, and every word, primarily because he invited us to experience a certain level of intimacy necessary for any artist to connect with their fans.
Brain Gang Blue took a second to remind Dallas fans of his production resume, before launching into tricky beats and getting deep with a performance of "Alone In My Trippy Field." We found -topic lurking in the shadows for a majority of the show, but he definitely got something off his chest, as he delivered a verse that resulted in wide eyes and shouts when local emcee (and TDE producer) Brain Gang Blue brought him to the stage for his "Party On (Remix)."
A.Dd+ didn't disappoint live, and Slim and Paris traded in Nerdy Fresh and Toms for all black vests and combat boots. Another wildly energetic duo, The Mohicans, provided the college crowd with songs they could relate to, and performed a few new numbers.
It was my first time hearing or seeing Dre Marley, but his set was reminiscent of another dread-rocking teenage artist: Chicago's Chief Keef. The music wasn't lyrically complex, but it appealed to the party crowd. He's also not shy about the spotlight, shrugging off the promoters with a wave so he could do one more song.