For more pictures from the show, see our slideshow here. 11:03 p.m.: This place is pretty well packed. 97.9 FM's G.T. is on stage. It's unclear whether he's the opening act or is just up there to fill time. He leans on a bunch of Houston classics to gain the support of the crowd; Fat Pat, H.A.W.K., UGK, things like that. When we ask a fellow standing behind us, "Hey, do you know who that is?," he responds, "Nah, it's just some hypeman." Probably not the best sign for GT's budding rap career. 11:11: As far as genuine fans are concerned, this is a very important show for these two. Paul and Cham are the second most fascinating duo in Houston's rap history. They struck gold with 2002's Get Ya Mind Correct, their debut album that meshed all of the interesting parts of each of their personalities together. Then, over the course of about eight years, they grew apart (which was predicted by anyone that bothered to pay attention to what they were saying in GYMC), hated each other, ignored each other, put up with each other, ignored each other again, then linked back up. The subtext is pretty clear: If this is a sham, a ploy to do nothing more than bolster album sales (both have new albums due this summer), then the show will be lifeless and corporate and their images might be irreconcilably tarnished. But if it's genuine, and they joined back up for history's (and their own legacy's) sake, the show will be good.
11:19: There's this fairly sizable girl trying to work her way through the crowd. The weird part is she looks like she thinks she's snaking through the crowd unnoticed. She's not. She's muscling through there like a full back. You know how in Ice Age 2 there's that mammoth named Ellie that thinks she's an opossum? She's always climbing trees and playing dead when hawks fly over and doing other things that tiny animals do? That's what we got going on here. It's cute. And maybe sad. 11:19:15: That might be the first time in history Ice Age 2 has been referenced at a rap concert. 11:21: Okay, we get it, you're shirt is covered in rhinestones, you're awesome. Ack. You know who needs to catch the blame for this trend ever taking off? Women. That's right. Women. If all the women in the world got together and issued an official statement like, "Look, we as a collective have decided that no woman will ever blow a man who wears a shirt with rhinestones on it," Armani Exchange would close down tomorrow. Guaranteed. 11:23: Waiting for Cham and Paul to come out, a DJ is playing a few more Houston gems. He gets to "25 Lighters." That's such a great song. Did anyone ever figure out how exactly the number of lighters on one's dresser is related to the rate at which one gets paid? How ill would it be if when you worked at Rap-A-Lot you weren't told how much money you'd get paid every week, but how many lighters there would be on your dresser? "Oh, I see here you've got three and half years experience in the industry. That's good. That means we can start you off at 9 lighters on your dresser, yessir." 11:25: "Mo City Don Freestyle." Rejoice. 11:27: Show's starting. Paul and Cham come flying out to Cham's "Won't Let You Down," which can't be by accident. Good start. Nice touch. 11:30: There's a very fighty-looking group of Mexicans right in front of us. We can't stop staring at them. Remember the face Ethan Hawke was making in Training Day when he was sitting at that table with those three menacing Mexicans after Denzel ditched him? That's our face. 11:34: Oh Jesus Christ. These four guys who look like the offensive line for the goddamned Denver Broncos just worked their way right in front of us. It's either we ask them to move or find a new spot. 11:35: So this new spot ain't so bad. 11:37: Cham is talking about how he and Paul are shooting a video for "Main Event" and some of the footage from this concert will be in it. He wants to make sure that the crowd looks hyped in the video later so he instructs them, "If me and Paul say to jump, you say 'how high?'." He says this, of course, to relay the message that he would like a lot of crowd participation at the appropriate times. Only the crowd is so excited at the prospect of being in a music video that they immediately respond "HOW HIGH?!" to his instruction instead of waiting him to actually say it. Thumbs up, Houstonians. 11:39: Together, Paul and Cham are way more hip-hoppy than you'd expect them to be. They bounce all over and hype each other's rhymes and do little mini-dances during the songs. It's good to see. They have a genuine chemistry. Thus far, the show is a success.
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11:40: Paul is crushing "Break 'Em Off," that wonky-sounding single from Get Money, Stay True that featured Lil' Keke. It's a good song in the car, but it's a great song in person. Have you seen that video? It's funny. The best part of is how completely unattached Keke was in it. The only footage they have of him is him rapping his part in the booth while holding his notepad. Fuckin' Keke, man. 11:44: Nice. Wall just dialed up that flow he did over Erykah Badu's "Bag Lady." Old school Swishahouse will always be the best Swishahouse. 11:45: We almost forgot that Cham doesn't cuss. An example: He just rapped, "...if you a hot girl, if not girl, you can't be touching my hot spot, girl." That sounds weird, right? Sadly, rap and cussing have become synonymous. Here, we'll run that line through the Explicit Rap Translator for you so you can understand it. [bleep, bloop, bleep, boop, boop, bleep] The results: "Bad bitches can grab my dick, ugly bitches hit the road quick." Bam. You're welcome. 11:49: Okay, an announcement: If you want to trick people into thinking that all of those fake diamonds in your watch and earrings and necklace are real, maybe you should stop by the barbershop and get yourself a fresh edge up before you break 'em out. Dirty edge-ups are not player. 11:51: Cham just took a playful shot at Mike Jones and then cued up a track from Mixtape Messiah 1, the absolutely devastating diss album he launched at Jones when they were feuding. He says he's joking when he does it, but you can tell he's enjoying it. 11:53: Paul just broke out "Bizzy Body." Another way to say that last sentence: Now's a good time to go the restroom. 11:59: They're doing "Main Event." Slim Thug is on the track, but he never materializes. That's disappointing. 12:04: A member of the House of Blues staff just came rushing through the crowd. He looks like he wants people to think he's very serious, but he has dreadlocks. You just can't be seen as an authority figure if you have dreadlocks. Well, maybe if you're a Jamaican drug lord you can, but other than that, it's pretty impossible. 12:06: Question: What's more ridiculous, that song "King Kong" or the dances that people do when it's played? 12:10: Cham starts talking about freestyling and this and that, then he pulls two guys up on stage from the crowd and lets them do about 16 bars each. The first guy, who says his name is "On Point" or something, does an okay job, but the second guy just kills it. The crowd is bananas with each of his punch lines. You can tell he and On Point are feeling very good about themselves. It's a great moment. But immediately after they're finished Cham brings out ESG, possibly Houston's most legendary freestyle rapper, and he just destroys it. Sucks for those first two guys. You know on "The Price Is Right" when they do the showcase showdown, and the first showcase is full of stuff like dishwashers and power tools and everyone is like, "Oh, that's a great prize"? But then they show the second showcase and it's full of trips to Europe and new cars and boats and stuff and everyone realizes that the first showcase is the sucker showcase and you should never ever get excited about it? That's what just happened. 12:16: They just brought Pimp C's son out on stage. Dang. 12:17: Booyah! The Bun B Law of Inevitability proves itself again. Bun offers up "Get Throwed" and the crowd explodes.
12:22: Hey, Keke is here. He does that song where he drops the immortal "Showin' naked ass in the great state of Texas" line. Cool. His reception isn't near as boisterous as Bun's, but that's to be expected. We mean, you wouldn't expect people in church to get amped to see Noah walk in if Jesus walked in five minutes beforehand. 12:25: The show is nearing the end, it feels like. This will be a little tricky. Near most every act prominent enough to go on a tour like this one has at least one song that will send a crowd into fits. And they'll always finish with that one. But Paul and Cham don't have a song like that. They have a bunch of songs that came close - "Ridin' Dirty"; "Sittin' Sidewayz"; etc-- but nothing that really settled into the "This Is A Classic And Will Cause Everyone To Go Apeshit When It's Performed Live" category. We're almost certain they're going to end with "N Luv Wit My Money," which is the only song with both of them on it that rates close to that level, but unless they've got another surprise in store, it likely won't fill the space like they're hoping. Curious to see how that plays out. 12:28: There's this white guy that's been trying to befriend the black guy standing next to him. He keeps trying to sync his head bobs up with the black guy's or putting his hand on his shoulder while he semi-raps the words to some of the songs. Fun stuff. 12:30: Cham and Paul tell people to pose for a picture that they're going to put on Twitter. Here it is. Could this ever happen at a Z-Ro show? Possibly. But then it'd be following be a series of events very similar to the middle 45 minutes of 2012. 12:33: TV Johnny! Ha. They don't even give him a mic. He just stands there smiling. How can anyone not love TV Johnny. 12:42: "Still Tippin'." 12:45: Yep, they went with "N Luv Wit My Money." It gets a nice reception, but a proper flourish would've been nice to see. All in all, this was a better constructed show than we had anticipated. Seeing Paul and Cham performing together like they were legitimately invested in the show was cool, and it made for a very engaging atmosphere. Plus, none of The Fighty Mexicans stabbed anyone, so that was cool too. This wasn't a historic event, but it's certainly been noteworthy.