Schoolboy Q The Door Saturday, June 30
On a night defined by sweat and hype, Schoolboy Q showed that sometimes you can be too good. Taking the stage after a litany of local artists, Q stalked the stage and effortlessly shifted gears between songs, taking control of style after style, showing exactly how diverse the Los Angeles rapper can be. While most talented emcees have a lane in which they excel, Q travels all over the map, changing his flow regularly, sometimes in the middle of a song. That vocal diversity was not just relegated to the rhyme: He would stretch syllables across bars before snapping back into laser-sharp double-time.
He made it all look so effortless, and that was a lot of the problem. He made no mistakes. He made it look too easy, almost mechanical, as he rattled off lyrics. His "crowd interaction" included (mock?) ridicule of many of his male fans and a bunch of complaining about a sound system that was admittedly not that bad (especially for a hip-hop show). These factors robbed the crowd of intimacy.
The crowd skewed a lot younger, but the Prophet Bar was packed from wall to wall, even during some of the night's earlier sets. So many quality acts took the stage, including many of Dallas' main movers and shakers of the moment. A rapid-fire synopsis:
Brain Gang Blue, one of the city's most talented producers, showed he is still working on his live act, but there was plenty of promise over some of the filthiest beats I've heard at a live show in quite some time.
Dustin Cavazos, rapping with the Dallas Mavericks' DJ, got things more hype, showing as much confidence and ability as any headliner and taking on a harder edge.
A.Dd+ was fantastic and debuted a new song. Tthey'll do just fine in front of Talib Kweli's fans when they support the legend later this month on the West Coast.
Tunk debuted the track he just released last week, "The Execution."
-topic is well on his way to becoming the rock star we pegged him to be, back when he opened for Black Star last year. Using momentum from his album Finally Confident, his live set is evolving to embrace that confidence. The noted fan of chips distributed many bags of them to the crowd, and live performances of "150Exp" and another song in which he quieted the crowd and cleared the stage were emotional highs of the night.
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A.R.K. the God Given MC won the night. Pacing herself with the chops of a live drummer, she absolutely destroyed the boys with razor-sharp double time runs. The casual listener might have mistaken her for a member of Schoolboy's Black Hippy crew, which also includes noted spitters Ab-Soul and Kendrick Lamar.
Choice came out, shrouded in a bit of mystery underneath a hoodie, but the stage presence was strong and he may just have a future on the local scene.
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The wildly energetic Apez, a massive collective of young rappers who barely look like they're out of high school, murdered their set. I see lots of Odd Future influence, and their energy level was something that this old man was quite frankly envious of. Loved it.
Another group of youngsters, Ft. Worth's CRiT LiFE, started the night with a refreshing, upbeat attitude that seems all but lost on rappers once they become hardened by the industry. Watching them, I realized how rare it is that you genuinely see a rapper smile while performing his songs. These kids have fun.
Random notes: The promoter's attempt to keep the interest high and the boredom low with such a huge lineup was helped by the on-stage painting that took form throughout the night. We'd like to see more stuff like that around here.
There were a number of lackluster attempts by audience members to stage dive, including one during A.Dd+'s set that was caught on film, spawning the Twitter hash tag #RondoStageDive.