Last Night: Hip-Hop Fest 2 At Midtown Lounge
Tawn P (left) and Dante Higgins
Photos by Shea Serrano
Hip-Hop Fest 2 feat. Tawn P, Undergravity, Dante Higgins Midtown Lounge June 9, 2011
11:09 p.m.: Son. Of. A. Bitch. We've been trying to see Tawn P live for, like, two months and have missed her every single time. She apparently just finished her set a couple of minutes ago. This shit is unbelievable. Go ahead and add this to the Big List of Reasons To Hate LeBron James that people have been compiling.
Tawn P is the creator of The Wake Up, one of the year's very best tapes.
Clarification: We don't hate LeBron James. Matter of fact, we rather like him. It was just an easy comment to make. Also: Rashard Lewis? WTF?
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11:17: Ah, Undergravity is up. UG is a likeable, organic duo that is most effective when they're being nostalgic. Their music is very good to listen to if you're driving on a not terribly hot afternoon or walking to the corner store or are at a picnic. One of them wears glasses (Mac) and the other one looks rather cuddly (Adam Bomb). They may have been born in the 60s, but we can't be sure of that.
11:21: We first saw Undergravity perform briefly at a beauty-supply store back in March, a night that was memorable mostly because it looked like a crazy man was going to murder comedian Ken 2 the Fool. Tonight, UG is much, much better, entirely confident and comfortable onstage. Their enthusiasm is almost palpable, which serves to magnify the earnestness of their music considerably.
11:22: UG has a three-man group of old-men singers on stage with them. Excellent. Naturally, the ubiquitous Ken 2 The Fool is up there with them, pretending to be the fourth member.
11:23: "I'm an old young nigga." - Adam Bomb, Undergravity
11:23:15: "Adam Bomb," by the way, might be the most ingenious rap name ever created.
Guy: Yo, Adam, if you're going to rap, you need a rap name.
Adam: What's wrong with "Adam"?
Guy: Bro, that's not a rap name. That's the name of an intern at an accounting office. That's the name of one of Sigma Chi's new pledges. Not a rapper.
Adam: Umm... oh, hey, rappers say "bomb," right? Like, this is the bomb? What about if I just add it to the end? Adam Bomb.
Adam: Yeah. It's cool. Adam Bomb. Say it: Adam Bomb.
Guy: ...Fuck it. Go with that.
11:28: The twosome has done well enough to earn an encore. They do a song, naturally, about summertime in the Southside. The crowd is not displeased.
11:30: Do you know how hard it is to see an obese black woman and not want to make a completely unoriginal Precious joke? That shit is just about impossible.
11:33: "Let's give it up for Undergravity, keeping the '90s alive." -Ken 2 the Fool
Ken 2 The Fool
11:45: At intermission. Ken is roasting some poor girls that are standing near the front of the stage. "Damn, you two are dancing like you ain't have a daddy growing up." ... "Let's give it up for the girls in tights. That big ass camel toe you got looks a sideways Big Mac." Gross.
11:51: Dante Higgins is up. We've written about him plenty this last half-year or so. He has really established himself as a marquee talent in town, and it appears to be paying off. Right now is the first time a majority of the crowd has rapped the words to a song along with the performer.
11:52: "Vote for Obama? Why, when everybody lie to me?" - Dante Higgins. Nice line.
11:53: Higgins has ripped open the box they were holding Tawn P in so she could accompany him on his "Lauryn Hill Stick-Up" track. She is an aggressive little fella. If she just jumped up and mauled someone near the stage, there probably wouldn't be too many people surprised.
12:03: He's finishing up with "Blow Up," likely the most fun track he's ever made. As soon as it kicks on the crowd goes yo-yo. People in the crowd jump and scream and rap along with him, guys on the periphery of the stage jump around, he struts around, the calm in the center of the storm, not necessarily admiring his popularity but certainly not shying away from it.
Song off, crowd explodes, high-fives, "Oh shit!"s, etc. Neat moment. Higgins is undeniable. The night is his.
12:05: A group called Youngest In Charge has been tasked with following Tropical Storm Higgins.
12:07: Okay, so one of the guys onstage is wearing a very nice Magic Johnson jersey. Coincidentally, a guy at the front of the stage is wearing a Michael Jordan jersey. They both have spiderweb tattoos on their shoulder. This can't be an accident, right?
12:17: It kind of seemed the evening was stacked up against YiC, but they're performance is admirable. They mostly do the "I Get Money, All I Do Is Count Money" type of thing, but they're believable in their affirmation. Aces.
12:20: O.N.E. is up. If they held a big battle rap competition, he'd be the favorite. His songs are excessively clever.
12:27: Neat moment: He's performing stuff from his forthcoming album, Spirit Driven. At one point, he raps, "We all want shine, I just want a different light," then, for like half a beat, he just stands there and stares up. It's subtle, and a majority of the room likely missed it, but it's pretty impactful. Cool.
12:29: Okay. And now, still working through the gristle of Spirit Driven, he's gone completely quiet, just standing in the middle of the stage staring down, breathing heavily, appearing to nearly cry. What the shit just happened? Can someone please call O.N.E.'s therapist? Thanks.
12:31: "Call me Rob Blagojevich, no I won't quit." - O.N.E. (Google him, you'll see.)
12:42: Doughbeezy is up. He, too, has been written about regularly since the beginning of the year. There are only so many ways that you can say someone is talented, y'know.
12:53: He burns through "Light You Up" and "Pass The Swisher" from his newest tape, before working his way to "HAM," which he performs with Higgins, and his own version of "Blow Up," notable mostly because it coerces the menacing KAB out onto stage.
Beezy has apparently picked up a following in the white community now, as there are several white guys here rapping along with him. They appear to omit any "nigga"s that pop up, but rap mostly everything else. Cool, cool, cool.
12:59: The crowd has grown pretty thin. There are a few more guys left it, but the night is basically over. Overdose is up now. He has an exceptional shirt - it simply reads "Who Is Overdose" and has a picture of a cartoon syringe on it. He performs better than anticipated, which is respectable given the circumstances. More from him soon, for certain.
1:25: KAB is performing. Before his set, he stood near the stage watching the people dissipate and just shook his head slowly. Then he got on stage and, perhaps through sheer force of gravity, pulled the remaining 18 or so people towards him.
He has gotten better and better every time we've seen him perform, and that trend continues now. He rumbles through his set, like how you'd imagine a rhino would run through Hobby Lobby. The Monster is never not enjoyable. Somebody please book a show and slide him into one of the marquee time slots.
Personal Bias: Bridesmaids was far better than The Hangover 2.
The Crowd: Was most excited when Higgins performed.
Overheard In the Crowd: Every word to every one of O.N.E.'s songs by a woman near the stage that was very likely his mother. Big ups to good, supportive parents.
Random Notebook Dump: The event was put together by an enterprising Third Wardian named Carl, but he goes by Da Real Mr. C, likely for the same reasons that Undergravity's Adam goes by Adam Bomb.
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