DMX, Scarface, Versecity House of Blues August 31, 2011
9:15 p.m.: DMX tonight. This is only his second show since his last prison stint, which, in examination, is kind of not really that big of a thing because he goes to prison about as often as a normal human being eats breakfast. Still, his debut album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, is an all-time great, and X is an all-time rap personality. So there.
9:17: No openers were advertised for tonight, so we're kind of curious about who it'll be. Some odds on who will open for him:
A couple of no-name rappers from his camp: 400,000 to 1
A couple of Houston rappers with ties to whoever is hosting: 3 to 1
A box of rattlesnakes dumped onto the middle of the stage: 1 to 1
9:24: We got here extra early to make absolutely sure that nothing was missed. Kane, local luminary, is hosting. At one side of the stage he has GO DJ JQue, and on the other he has GO DJ J-Boss, or, as he's also known, That Gigantic Lump of Muscles With Eyes. They're doing a battle of sorts, trading songs to see who can get the crowd more hyped. Fun.
9:24:15: Dang, for real, J-Boss is a big, big dude. He appears to get larger by the hour. You know how action figures are purposely built to look kind of like hyperboles of what heroes look like, all cut-up and extra-muscular and just generally way bigger than the people that play with them? Okay, J-Boss is like the action figure that an action figure would play with.
9:33: Um, okay, so the opening act coming out onstage is the boy indie-rock band, VerseCity. Dang. Nobody on the planet was going to predict that one. How did that happen?
9:33:15: Haha. A text message regarding the band that just came to us: "Your review just got funny." Nice to know people are reading.
9:54: After a few rocky parts, VerseCity's singer (he's very good) appears to be winning over at least a small, small portion of the crowd. We're just going to take a shot here, but this is likely the most black people who have ever watched VerseCity play a show ever in ever.
10:14: Ack. A bubbly R&B act? What the hell is going on? This has got to be the strangest combination of gangster-rapper opening performers that's ever been assembled. This is like going to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the movies and seeing previews for children's movies beforehand.
We didn't come here to see a cute little fish's father cross the ocean to find him, we came to see someone get bludgeoned in the head and hanged on a meat hook. Let's go.
10:26: Kane is back out, trying to work the crowd back up. He hollers, "Who got love for DJ Screw," which, at a Houston rap show, is like saying, "Who doesn't have love for child molestation?"
10:39: Oh snap. There's a guy with a big head of dirty, curly hair. He looks exactly like Willie Lopez from Ghost. If the shadows in here start coming alive, we are making a fucking break for it.
10:42: Double snap. There's a separate guy near the bar in the back that looks like a Shaman or something: Ghostly eyes, spaced-apart teeth, button-up shirt only buttoned up 25 percent of the way, lots of bracelets. If your appearance is best described as looking "like a Shaman or something," maybe you don't just go walking up to girls uninvited. He's creeping the shit out of everyone, it seems. Poor guy is getting nothing from anyone.
10:52: Wait for it...
10:53: Yes... Wait...
10:54: BLAM-O! X!
10:54:15: "We Right Here"! It's hype already! Fifteen seconds in, X is a tornado! Total boner mode right now.
10:57: Jesus, his growl, that thing that's where most people's voices are, is especially poignant and gravely. When he breathes, it sounds like a V-8 idling. He still talks and raps in that stutter-stepped jaunt. Fantastic.
10:58: THIS IS NOT...
10:58:02: A FUCKING...
11:00: Ah crap. Technical difficulties. X stops the show and shouts toward his DJ, "Who is it!? Who's responsible!? Point 'em out! We got the wolves on standby!" This is likely a euphemism, though if anybody were to travel with an actual pack of wolves, we'd guess it to be X. The crowd eats it up.
11:02: OH SHIT! SCARFACE IS ONSTAGE! SCARFACE IS ONSTAGE! THIS IS HIS FIRST POST-PRISON CAMEO! SHIT, THIS MIGHT BE HIS FIRST CAMEO SINCE 2008, PERIOD!
11:03: "That nigga been that nigga since I known that nigga" - DMX, regarding Scarface
11:08: Haha. He's doing the thing where he looks into the crowd, picks out a few people, then addresses them directly. Says he to a woman on the top balcony, "You, you can [get] fucked tonight. For real." I think I read that on a holiday card once. Dark Man X is not a fan of foreplay, it appears.
11:13: "Touch It (Remix)."
11:17: "Get It On the Floor."
11:19: Christ, man. Did you know that DMX is more than 40 years old? Because he sure as shit doesn't. This guy is monstrous onstage. He's covered in sweat, barks are echoing through the room. Everything about him should be written in caps for the entirety of his life. This is splendid. He is clearly very genuinely excited to not be in prison anymore. Maybe he should try and not go back this time. Says DMX, "Not go back to prison? That's silly talk."
11:21: Ahahahahaha. The Shaman is back, this time near the mosh pit at the mouth of the stage. He just got shot down hardcore by some girl. She pushed him off of her. Oh, Shaman. Sadly, your spells are not working tonight.
11:26: So DMX just did the thing where a rapper will call a girl (or some girls) on stage for a bit. Typically, they'll get up there, the rapper will address them directly, make some sexual implications, then the rapper will laugh and they girls will get off stage with a neat story to tell and no one will have penetrated anyone.
But when DMX does it, he calls them up, they get onstage, then he moves them to the back of the stage, apparently to wait for him to finish the show so he can take them in the back and have sex with them. He doesn't say one single word to them, beyond instructing them to stand at the back. X is a sex gangster.
11:27-11:31: To set the mood for the girls he might possibly impregnate, he dips into his Let's Get It Romantic In Here bag, pulling out "Love My Niggas (But Where My Bitches)" and "What These Bitches Want." Awesome. What do you think DMX gets a girl for Valentine's Day? The morning-after pill? A rabid pitbull?
11:34: "Where The Hood At." It is, as they say, live as fuck right now. There is a group of gentlemen behind us who look like they are about to fight. Neat. Time to move.
11:55: X is force of nature. That thing about how you cannot create or destroy energy, there's probably some sort of "except if you're talking about DMX, because holy shit" caveat.
11:56: He's tossing bottles into the crowd, even trying to get some up on the balcony. DMX is a bonafide thug, singularly one of the most intimidating men in the history of men, a veritable walking kill machine, but for real, he kind of throws like a girl. There's, like, a little skip or something right before he tosses something (underhanded, mind you) a long distance. Did not see that coming.
11:59: He's doing "Slippin'," his haunting, radiantly expository track from 1999 that still rates among his best constructed songs. The hook is a simple, unassailable, "I'm slippin', I'm fallin', I can't get up. Ay, yo, I'm slippin', I'm fallin', I can't get up. Ay, yo. I'm slippin', I'm fallin', I gots to get up." Today, it's still entirely applicable, and tonight it possesses the sun's gravity.
It's the first time he's asked the light man to turn the lights off. He's still, standing in the middle of the stage, rapping in the dark. He looks almost alone and he looks almost lost and he looks almost defeated. Almost. He's (likely) too maniacal to ever be completely right, but he's (likely) too maniacal to ever stop trying. This is an excellent moment.
12:07 a.m.: Music's over. He's stepping around the stage, asking for Scarface to come back out. Face obliges, waddling out, then holding the microphone long enough to express concern for Willie D and how there has to be a God because you can his baritone rattling around in your ears if you listen.
He mentions that there may be new Geto Boys music on the way, and X pantomimes begging to be on a track. Face laughs. X gets the microphone back and launches into his cadence, delivering a final prayer. People scream and shout and whoop and holler and then it's over. #neatX3
Personal Bias: I have been saying that I was going to start working out on Monday for, like, at least the last six years, and the only CD I plan on listening to when I start (this Monday's the one, for real) is It's Dark and Hell Is Hot.
The Crowd: Was amped. There were at least two near-fights. For the most part, though, nobody was too ignorant.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Watch my Js, watch my Js," hollered the awful, overweight woman standing behind me to every person that walked by. She spent a large portion of the night hollering gibberish at DMX too. I think at one point she said something about dicks or Snickers or something? I don't know though. I was too busy trying to find something to stab myself in the face with after listening to her for 10 minutes.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Random Notebook Dump: Screwed Up Records and Tapes is officially closed. We stopped by yesterday before the show and, by 7 p.m., they'd already removed the signage and begun pulling the innards of the store out.
Bonus Random Notebook Dump: Bun B, J. Prince and Slim Thug were all also in attendance. That's, what, Bun B hanging out with the Mayor of Houston and then the Mayor of Insanity inside of a 36-hour window? Only Bun.