New Skool Back to School Concert feat. O.N.E., Eskabel, Killa Kyleon, DeAndre Wright, Dante Higgins, Hoodstar Chantz, Jack Freeman, Delo & Preemo Warehouse Live August 30, 2011
9:07 p.m.: Here for the "New Skool" Back to School show at Warehouse Live's supplemental room. A couple of people have performed already. The crowd is fairly small, with everyone lined up along the edges of the room. Hopefully the energy picks up soon. It's pretty drab right now. There's a guy in here wearing a tuxedo top with the sleeves cut off. It's probably his fault.
9:07:15: By the way, "New Skool" seems to be the stand-in term tonight for "New Houston," a phrase that has become a tad grating for some. There's no official New Houston lineup or roster sheet; it's said to encompass this entire class of rappers, but there are definitely names more closely associated with it than others.
9:24: O.N.E. is up. He has an album coming out called Spirit Driven that, if the single he released (an emotive, expressive four minutes of music called "I Hope I Get It Right This Time") is any indication, will be good.
9:27: O. works hard onstage, consistently moving, constantly trying to keep the attention of the crowd. Cool, although he has chosen to rap over his own vocals, an offense only slightly more tolerable than, say, setting someone's home on fire or prison rape.
9:32: Hey, hey. Niq, most famous for being part of the G.R.i.T. Boys, has just wondered in. He is, hands down, the best black hippie in Houston. Love that guy.
9:38: O. is finishing his set with an a cappella, which sounds a lot like spoken word. Solid set.
9:54: Ah yeah. Eskabel is up. We've been trying to catch this guy perform since he released that "Michael Jordan" track a while back. He refers to himself as the Black Shark. Fingers crossed that his set starts with the Jaws theme...
9:54:15: It did not. Dang.
10:10: Eskabel burned through a bunch of his tracks. The sound man here seems to be struggling a bit; it's been hard to hear a lot of what's going on, dreadful because he finishes with his maniacal version of "Otis," wherein he goes into a feeding frenzy (see that? see what we did there?). Still, he is clearly talented.
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10:18: Ack... intermission... show's starting to drag... send help...
10:25: You know that DJ Chose song that goes, "DON'T STOP! POP THAT PUSSY! POP THAT PUSSY!" over and over again? It's probably the worst song in the world to play when you're dropping off your sons at their church-based private school, but it's pretty trenchant when played in this kind of setting. Were we in possession of said pussy right now, we would absolutely pop it. We'd pop it all over this place.
10:30: Oh snap. Killa Kyleon, who either just showed up or couldn't take the dullness anymore, has commandeered the show. He is directing the DJ through a set of Houston favorites, ad libbing and even kind of yelling at the crowd for its listlessness. People are dancing along and singing again. Energy is back. Praise be the most high; Killa. Kanye totally should've said that instead.
10:35: Oh shit. Some dude here has a super-legit mustache. It's not one of those wispy, pseudo-staches. We're talking a bonafide one, bro. He's on his Boris Miles shit.
10:55: After a quick set from R&B artist Deandre Wright, who flexed toughest on her first song, Dante Higgins is up. It appears he brought a significant portion of Third Ward with him; a large group of folks push towards the front of the stage as his set starts. We've seen Higgins perform about 600 times this year.
Here's what's going to happen: It will open with the hyper-earthy Alicia James wobbling through an a cappella solo that ends with her proclaiming, "I just wanna be successful," then Higgins will start, do a serious song (this usually involves some sort of long form narrative), a newer song that he's trying out to see how it rates with a crowd, then a song that he trusts to do well (something from one of his last two mixtapes, likely), then he finishes with his redo of J. Cole's "Blow Up," wherein the crowd (his portion, at least) loses its shit.
11:05: Okay, all of that from the 10:55 stamp, that just happened. Face.
11:07: Slim Thug and BHO running mate Le$ have just wandered in. Guaranteed, if you go through and check Twitter's history from now through the next 20 minutes, it's going to be flush with tweets complimenting Thugga in hopes that he RTs them so people can possibly pick up a few spare followers.
11:09: So it seems like each rapper has brought with him a group of people to stand near the front of the stage and scream while they perform. Hoodstar Chantz, a brilliant freestyler and perpetually underappreciated talent, has the most curious group with him, though. It is a four-girl army (not that unusual) dressed like they just got finished taping an episode of Arsenio Hall. We're talking shoulder pads, polka dots, Hammer pants and more. Excellent.
11:12: "Fuck comin' second to some all lright niggas." - Hoodstar
11:15: Haha. He's just pulled one of the Arsenio Hall girls up on stage, taught her a quick dance to the song he's about to perform, had her do it, then gave her the boot.
11:16: Okay, this guy is no joke. He and The Artist Luv (a singer that HS has leaned on for vocals) are locked in. Shit is about to get serious.
11:18: AHAHAHAHAHAHA! Check it: Hoodstar started a new song, pulling up the most gangster of the Arsenio Hall girls up on stage with him. He starts rapping, she starts dancing. Every few seconds he puts the microphone near her face and she spouts out whatever the next few lines of the song are. Fun, but a pretty standard move.
BUT, she gets so keyed up that she grabs the mic and just goes the fuck off, rapping the entire song with an unfathomable amount of excitement. Hoodstar, flummoxed, can only watch and smile. She looks like the goddamn Tazmanian Devil, hair whipping all around, arms and legs running amok. The crowd has pushed in tight, reflecting her own energy back onto the stage.
She's screaming, the audience is screaming, she's dancing, the audience is pulsating. The last bit of the song says something about money, at which point she takes a handful of dollars and throws them into the crowd. Holy shit. This is amazing. HS wins. Everyone go home.
11:29: The Black Frank Sinatra is up.
11:29:15: That's Jack Freeman, by the way.
11:39: Jack Freeman does not have the strongest voice in Houston, true, but his aesthetic, which he has polished to a proper sheen, is unassailable, and pushes him to the head of a growing class of male R&B singers in Houston. He knows exactly what he is going to do with a song, all the time, always. It cannot be overstated how important that is. There's only so many ways to say that a guy is unique, y'know.
11:41: Delo. His performance is preempted by Killa Kyleon proclaiming that his jersey should be hung from the rafters. High praise.
11:43: Haha. Says Delo: "We're gonna start this like a real show. DJ, play the beat. You all pretend like you can't see me. I'm gonna come out when the beat goes on." Delo is funny.
11:45-59: Wow. If anybody matched the antics of Hoodstar's set, it was Delo. Most fervently, he powered through his "One Shot," which samples Rage Against The Machine, and "AAAGGGHHHH," every bit as menacing as the title implies. He's a monster on stage. No shit, his set was interrupted by a woman jumping on tage to say that a woman had mysteriously passed out in the back, and it was only the fourth most interesting occurrence during Delo's time on stage.
You know that part in Jaws where he comes up behind that banana and just starts eating shit? That was Delo for the last 15 minutes. Give that guy a plaque or something.
12:08: Shit. Apparently, there are two more acts going (an impromptu set from Youngest N Charge and Propain the villain, whom we wanted to see desperately), but the show is already more than an hour past its alleged stopping point. Shit, shit, shit. Game over.
Personal Bias: Having children is the worst. We had to leave at 12:08 a.m. because our babysitter was blah, blah, blah.
The Crowd: Eventually grew to be substantial.
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Overhead in the Crowd: Lots, but nothing really.
Random Notebook Dump: Preemo, the most phenomenally discreet rapper in all of history, performed too. However, we were so engaged in his show that we neglected to write down any notes during his set, so we didn't know where or when to plug him in here. The kid is tough.