XV, The Niceguys, Fat Tony, Uzoy Warehouse Live Studio August 10, 2011
XV has shitty luck in Houston. Every time he performs here, something terrible happens. Last time, his tour bus broke down. Wednesday night, his car flipped over three times on I-45. Luckily, he made it out alive with only a few scratches.
But Houston wasn't done with the Kansas-bred rapper. On his way to Wednesday night's show, he got pulled over for running a stop sign. XV admitted that there was a little alcohol involved in the crash.
Oh. We wouldn't have guessed that at all. We were leaning toward voodoo.
"I'm lucky to be here," he told the Warehouse crowd later. "And we're gonna have a good fucking time."
We did. But before XV would get to party like it was his last, we were treated to a two-hour Houston hip-hop showcase.
Uzoy opened the show with her butane flow. Her set was energetic with a hint of ol' skool charm. Confidence. Passion. Substance. Houston's answer to Jean Grae. Fierce. Technically sound. True Golden Ager. Will do some damage once someone of import finds out about her.
Crowd was intrigued, too. Made us wonder how they would have reacted if they knew the words to her songs. She wondered, too. After the set, she went around and passed out copies of her mixtape, The [DEF]inition.
After a million Fat Tony shows, you'd think you've seen it all. Not so. Tonight, Tony will show you. Oh, he will. He'll bring two hypemen onstage just because. He'll even remix an anthem like "Like Yeah" to keep things fresh. And he'll drop the beat and go a capella because he treats clever rhymes like hot legs.
He's got 'em and he has no problem flaunting 'em.
You say Niceguys, we say camaraderie on a hunnid thousand kajillion. The music is official, sure. They're a wonder to watch onstage, no freakin' doubt. But the chemistry is a completely different hue of gold. We're talking hockey team in the middle of a brawl-type chemistry.
If these guys didn't have music, you could picture them hanging out in Midtown comparing sneakers and arguing over the Digable Planets' discography.
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After the Houston showcase came the main act. Except XV was hardly able to separate himself from the openers. While he's mastered the art of stage presence, he lacked the chant-worthy hits and that often define the top performers.
Still, for a guy who had just spent the day climbing out of a wrecked car, his energy was admirable. A lot of hand isometrics, a lot of hopping around, and enough sweat to raise Patrick Ewing's brow. Confident as a car salesman. But attimes it felt like he was striking a match repeatedly without sparking a flame.
That match, though, is the reason XV is mildly successful - he crafts clever rhymes, writes songs that strike a chord with his genre-spinning tunes, and his producers whip up stellar beats that flatter his flow. He'll be around for a while.
He's already dropped one of 2011's best mixtapes. Can we expect the his major-label debut to follow up the strong performance? If what we heard on Zero Heroes is any indication, the kid might have a trick or two in his backpack. But he'll also need Lady Luck to flash him a smile.
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Personal Bias: None.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I've never heard of this guy" - someone who's never heard of the Internet.