Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, Boldy James and The Alchemist Combine Forces for the NBA Leather Tour

Action Bronson stands center stage at the House of Blues
Action Bronson stands center stage at the House of Blues Photo By Jennifer Lake Reister
“I think they’re ready,” exclaimed Earl Sweatshirt as he turned away from the DJ and looked back at the audience at the House of Blues. As the audience screamed in agreement, the West Coast MC looked around the packed house.

“How are y'all gonna say you’re ready when you don’t even know what’s coming?” he said laughing as the DJ simultaneously dropped the beat for “East,” the off-kilter track with its jerking accordion loop. The sound  reverberated through the crowd as Earl stood center stage trading verses back and forth with the crowd.

Earl has spent his career forging his own path and refusing to create traditionally commercial music, often releasing work composed of extremely short songs with abrasive, hard hitting beats. It’s a catalog his fans ate up Friday as Earl rapped his set, pacing back and forth across the stage.

NBA Leather, the multi-city North American featuring Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, Boldy James, and The Alchemist, touched down at the House of Blues Friday night, getting a hardcore, dedicated fanbase to brave the cold, gloomy weather and fill the House of Blues to capacity.

Coming fresh off the release of Earl’s fourth album, Sick!, the tour gives the four artists the opportunity to deliver live music to their rabid fanbases. All three artists have worked with Alchemist’s production with Boldy releasing two albums in 2021, Bo Jackson and Super Tecmo Bo. Action, of course, is constantly working with Alchemist, featuring him on his Vice Show, Fuck That’s Delicious, and releasing several joint albums.

Even Earl has teased the release of a secret album that he and Alchemist collaborated on and uploaded to Youtube under a fake name, sending fans scrambling to find the record, still lost in an ever-growing sea of audio and video.
click to enlarge
Earl Sweathirt brings his out-of -the-norm style to a live audience.
Photo By Jennifer Lake Reister
There was no need for fans to look for the music Friday as the NBA Leather tour provided fans with hits and mixtape classics throughout the night. After a brief intro, Action Bronson walked onto the stage with the start to his and Alchemist’s 2019 album Lamb Over Rice. Action, continuing to show his pandemic weight loss and introduction into bodybuilding, stalked across the stage, dressed simply in a cut up white tour shirt and black shorts. Throughout his set the East Coast MC gave the energy of a professional wrestler, stopping between songs to flex for the audience. As the house lights shined into the crowd Bronson would point and yell at audience members in appreciation as they flexed back.
click to enlarge
Bun B performs alongside Action Bronson as a surprise guest.
Photo By Jennifer Lake Reister
While the show was composed of MCs from different parts of the country, with Earl from Santa Monica, Boldy from Detroit, Alchemist from Beverly Hills, and Action from New York, the chemistry between all four was evident, with the MCs walking on stage to perform with each other’s set or standing on the side to cheer each other on. They even made sure to pay homage to the city, bringing out half of a legendary southern rap duo.

“I see you! I see everything Houston,” he screamed, making sure the city knew he touched down. Shortly after Action welcomed Bun B and Le$ to the stage as Bun performed the UGK hit “Wood Wheel.” As Bun performed, Action, Alchemist, Earl and Boldy joined him on stage to cheer alongside the Port Arthur native as Pimp C’s verse filled the room.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Houston Press contributor DeVaughn Douglas is a freelance writer, blogger, and podcaster. He is 1/2 of the In My Humble Opinion Podcast and 1/1 of the Sleep and Procrastination Society. (That last one isn't a podcast; he just procrastinates and sleeps a lot.)