On Thursday, March 15th, I caught the second half of the Oy Vey! Day Party that featured an onslaught of rappers. As I arrived, Black Lung and Fresco Clean were performing together as Whiteboy Wasted. They hit their rhymes left and right, sometimes becoming stuck in a certain sound — but for such young guys, they impressed with their true strength: their wordplay.
Fresco was by far the stronger of the duo, spitting out goofy lines so rapidly that if you chuckled at what he’d just said, you’d miss the next. His quick-fire lyrics practically don’t afford you time to take everything in, which gives him a depth most rappers don’t have — especially for a 22-year-old white kid from Rockford, Illinois. Unfortunately, their set was a bit stifled, as a technical malfunction affected Black Lung’s microphone. Still, watching two guys my age perform made me excited to see how far they will go if they keep it up.
Next up was Kyle Rapps, who took the stage on a more serious note. He immediately directed the crowd, “Make noise and raise your hand in the air if you’ve ever fucked up or if you are single right now.” When everybody raised their hands, he said, “Alright, take a look around — I’m trying to help you all out” and launched into his songs.
With DJ Side Reel, a 16-year-old prodigy from Minneapolis, Kyle Rapps projected a sound akin to a toned-down Jurassic Five — wholesome, chilled out, fully realized beats without any of the high-pitched chimes or annoying high-hats that you’d hear on the radio. Kyle Rapps’ new EP On Air features a song on which he collaborates with Talib Kweli, verifying that he’s not a lightweight rapper in any way shape or form.
Ducky was next, mixing YACHT-style dance pop beats with her extremely powerful voice and hyper-sexual stage presence. Her sexually-charged show isn’t a gimmick to cover up any lack of musical ability, however — she’s a hardcore electronic artist and can bring the bass as hard as any male DJ. Towards the end of the show she said, “My apologies if I just blew out the speakers, but I have time for one more — let’s really blow ’em out!” And she wasn’t joking.
Kosha Dillz came on stage and kept the crowd entertained, cracking jokes like, “I’m the only Jewish guy to bring tattooed rappers who speak Spanish to Texas, but I did it.” He encouraged the crowd to get up and close for his first song, lending a personal element to the performance. He emanated positivity and uplifting energy throughout the set, via his lyrics, beats, and stage presence. During his final track, he asked each of the artists in the showcase place a random object on stage so he could freestyle lyrics about the objects. It sounded just as free-flowing, fun, and natural as any of his recorded tracks.
Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire was next, introducing a heavy, political element to the show. It seemed as though he were attacking the crowd with every line like, “Don’t retweet me/I don’t like you” — and we ate up every bit of it. Between each song, his DJ would chime in and tell Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire to chill — or make a joke about him — before they simultaneously exploded into the next track. He isn’t all tough and hard: at one point, Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire knelt down and rapped to a pregnant lady’s belly in the crowd and blessed her kid. I’ll bet you’ve never seen that at a show before.
Last up was the headliner, Murs, who immediately announced to the crowd that he could only perform newer tracks, as he left his laptop with his entire library of beats at home, only bringing a laptop with newer stuff and a few classics.
Murs started to roll out songs from his latest album, Love & Rockets Vol. 1: The Transformation and everyone in the crowd couldn’t have been happier. Many of his newest tracks are thematically based on relationships, yet he strayed from the topic for “67 Cutlass,” about two gangsters getting pulled over by a cop and accidentally killing him: “If you’ve never killed a cop while high on magic mushrooms, this song is for you” he said before launching into the track.
He then started to take requests, only to tell people, “I don’t have that beat!” — but still, he managed to kill every song. It was the best hip-hop showcase one could have asked for at SXSW.