Check out our slideshow of last night's Red Bull Skooled Tour launch.
"Excuse me while I get the turntables straight. Til then, let me help you get some pussy. This the "help you get some pussy hour"!"
Before spinning a single record on the turntables, New Orleans' most noted producer/part-time emcee and full-blown grandiose shit talker Mannie Fresh let the crowd know at Warehouse Live that he indeed was in rare form. After the opening leg of the Red Bull Skooled Tour had touched on the big four Texas music hot beds, it was time for Fresh to bring an already rousing night into a sweaty and enjoyable crescendo.
At his DJing best, despite mic issues, Fresh is kind of like the DJ you always wanted at your high school dances, proms, etc. growing up. He'll mix in some modern rowdy anthems (see Meek Mill's "I'ma Boss") with old school defacto headbangers (C-Murder's "F*ck Them Other N*ggas"). His most indelible moment last night came in the form of him leaving the turntables and turning the Studio portion of Warehouse Live into a Cash Money medley for the '99 and the 2000.
The story of love, complete with interludes from Lenny Williams, Marvin Gaye and H-Town led to "Project Chick", the ballsy funk of Gilligan's Island still rings true for "Still Fly" and "Get Your Roll On". Old Hot Boys records, Juvenile's 400 Degreez, anything Fresh touched from the old Cash Money was unearthed. At times, we felt like we were trying to chase girls back in middle school during Fresh's set. Thankfully, it was more success than failure this time around.
Billed as a who's who of Texas' underground rap scene, the undercard to the almighty Mannie Fresh played out as so: opener Worldwide from San Antonio coasted through a pretty Southern traditionalist style set, ripping through bouncy, bass tinged production with the slight hunger of an early 8Ball. I wanted a CD, never got one. Dammit.
Austin's Kydd, a regular to these sort of things added a sense of vitality to the standby solo rap set, nasally at times but more than potent enough to cut through timeless instrumentals such as "Nas Is Like" and "I Get Around" without fail or even a minor slip. Even the woozy song he had with West Coast trio Pac Div (performed sans Pac Div of course) was delightful. Almost in a "I Can Rap Double Time Or Mono-Flow, Pick One and I'll Kill You With It" sort of way.
The yo-yo battle between Dallas and Houston was clearly evident as A.Dd+, they of the constant "Dallas version of OutKast" statements and The Niceguys, masters of trio stage rap when there's really only one rapper (Yves) followed one another. Slim Gravy and Paris Pershun waxed poetic with snazzy ragtime ("Greedy"), hard hitting Detroit drums from Black Milk ("Insomniac Dreaming") and definite odes to straight forward chaos and nihilism ("Genocide"). It started with Slim clad in a vest, a hoodie and a pair of sunglasses and ended with him dropping the mic after his verse on "Genocide", acting like a living breathing guillotine to the proceedings.
As for Houston's own lovable Niceguys, there's an aura about them. Whether it be your first glimpse of them or like me, your twelfth or so, the energy is always the same. High, like Scarface's mountain of coke high.
Imagine a gang of Spartans ripping through a village with no remorse, that's The Niceguys on stage. Fun throughout, even when they remained loyal to the city by sprinkling in a random freestyle session during "Not At All" where Jack Freeman channeled the spirit of Big Moe. Even their two newer tracks in "Casino" and "Overtoast" played to rousing cheers from the crowd. In short: The Niceguys know how to work a stage, from crowd participation to in-jokes and random covers that always seem to excite.
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Overheard In The Crowd: "YOU DON'T FUCK WITH ESG?!" - Talented RandB singer Lee-Lonn, who for the night doubled as a rapper who could sing but instead rapped to get your girlfriend and then pretended to be The Hulk jokingly shouted at two women. Hilarity.
The Crowd: Thick for a free rap show.
Random Notebook Dump: Doors opened at 8 p.m. but like most rap shows, the actual show didn't start til near 10. I found myself outside gawking at the massive bus Red Bull has for this tour. Flat screens and plenty of room. For a gang of artists' first tour ever, it's a pretty sweet thing.
Random Notebook Dump #2: A.Dd+ was everywhere. Literally. From posters outlining the stage to the bathroom, you couldn't move without seeing a flyer for their album. As their manager told me with a grin, "You can't pee without A.Dd+!"