Murs, The Insects, Fashawn, Prof @ Club Red|2/5/13
It looks like it's that time of the year again, as Murs gathers a select group of rappers to embark on a nationwise tour leading up to his annual "Paid Dues" festival in March. The endeavor this year, aptly titled "The Road to Paid Dues," normally showcases new and rising talent in the hip-hop world, and this year is no exception. He's joined by raw Fresno emcee, Fashawn and the energetic Prof from Minneapolis, both joining Murs for this 43-date adventure. After cracking off their tour in Flagstaff, then a stopover in Tucson, Club Red in Tempe provided the backdrop for the third stop of the tour with the help of promoters Universatile Music. Special guests The Insects acted as the hosting opening act as they also celebrated the digital release of their new album Black Roses, and DJ Foundation, a member of the The Insects, pulled double duty with Murs, and joins the touring party as it works its way to Paid Dues.
I arrived as The Insects took the stage. They went through a medley of updated versions from their first release, Free the Hard Way as well as songs from their newest effort, Black Roses. The new songs have an even darker tone than their previous efforts but make a strong case for the album. As Brad of the Insects wowed the people of the audience with his dizzying rhyme schemes and Foundation kept the crowd excited with quick record and demands from crowd, Dumperfoo impressively painted his trademark skull portrait within the time of the allotted set. The point of a good hype man is to be able to fill in the blanks when you need, and Foundation displayed this talent quite well; he'd pick up the slack each time Brad B's breath began to give way. It's clear these three have a very strong chemistry, something that they are able to harness and then extend to the crowd. With a very strong performance overall, The Insects set the tone for the evening and made way for Fashawn.
Fash opened his set with his popular track, "Skating Down the Block," much to delight of the crowd, which filled the room about three-quarters full. He dipped into songs from his debut release, Boy Meets World, keeping the audience hyped with high fives in the front row and strong stage presence. After casually saying, "No requests" after an audience member yelled out a song they wanted to hear, Fashawn dropped songs from his Champange and Styrofoam Cups, his latest effort. Fashawn then brought out Murs to perform songs from their release together, This Generation including the hit "Slash Gordan". The pleasant surprise of the night came from the Minnesota-based artist, Prof. Opening the set with his song, "Wasting Time," which flips Childish Gambino's "Heartbeat", Prof hit the ground running with sing-song hooks, call-and-response participation, and at least five or six water bottles thrown in the faces of crowd members. They didn't seem to mind too much as his down-to-earth demeanor kept the crowd lively. His high-energy set consisted of hard 808 beats and strange choruses that the crowd seemed to eat up.
While Murs' set was strong, there were a couple of moments during the set that made for some awkwardness including a scuffle breaking out during set, causing Murs to forego a song. A pivotal timing point during Murs' set was miffed by DJ Foundation, which led Murs to mention how he was, "fucking up." Even though he may have been joking (it didn't seem like it) it definitely gave the crowd the air of tension for a brief moment. This didn't stop the show by any means, as Murs gave the crowd what they had been waiting for: hit after hit. He took the audience through most of the more popular songs from his series of releases with 9th Wonder, including "Whatuptho" and "Bad Man". Murs also dropped cuts from his recent releases, Love and Rockets and Curse of the Merch Girl, including a personal favorite "Remember 2 Forget". Murs' trademark smile was wide as he bounced across the stage for songs like "L dot A Dot" and "H-U-S-T-L-E-R". Murs navigated through the set with ease, and kept the energy high for the crowd, which was reciting every word alongside the emcee.
All in all, the third stop on the "Road to Paid Dues" tour was a fantastic one. Murs has always had an ear for finding new talent and showcasing them on the road. Clearly, he's found a good cast of newcomers with this pair: Prof stole the show, and Fashawn's set was highly entertaining. If you are a fan of good boom bap hip-hop, as well a few surprises, it's essential to catch this show when it rolls through your city.
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