Review and Photos by Jonathan Alvira
Club Red, Tempe
May 24, 2013
The dim-lit venue suddenly became bright and the crowd awoke as the so-called "underground king" stormed on stage. With his southern hospitality accenting his country slang, Big K.R.I.T. expressed genuine love to his fans the moment he ran out from back stage.
Leading up to K.R.I.T.'s dramatic entrance, a subdued crowd was smoking copious amounts of weed to get through the first hour of local acts. By the time I'd arrived, sexy promo girls were giving away paraphernalia to the crowd. I would have made it up to the stage to grab some for myself, but I ended up finding a nearby booth selling grinders and CDs all labeled with a bold-type hash tag, "#NUGLIFEMERCH."
I stood by the backstage entrance waiting for the promoter to let me in; it was directly across from the women's bathroom where some drunken guy was puking his ass off. A Kevin Federline look-alike stood nearby in his baggy white sweatpant bottoms and plain black tall-tee, CD in hand to get autographed. The other guy next to me kept trying to pass his vaporizer pen to the people backstage in a faint attempt to get access. Then a fine, thick young lady walked up to me and had the nerve to ask, "who is Big K.R.I.T?" Ironically enough, she would also be the first girl on stage after his performance to get a photo of her new found, favorite rapper.
Smoke Dza jumped on, warming up the stage for the Big K.R.I.T. West Coast Tour, and fans flocked from the bar and the outside patio. Sweating profusely, Dza gave a lackluster performance for the half-empty venue. He wasn't very graceful on stage; he even looked out of breath as he just screamed into the mic. The sound wasn't that great either; it's my least favorite venue in Tempe, but for this tour it was a perfect intimate setting.
Opening with "King Without A Crown," off his new mixtape King Remembered In Time, the fans were in a frenzy to see Big K.R.I.T., the underground legend, live.
"How you feeling tonight Arizona? I fuck with y'all out here," said K.R.I.T. as he paced up the stage, shaking hands with a few fans. The energy quickly escalated and guys were already shit-talking and bumping into each other, ready to throw down.
After testing his fans' knowledge, K.R.I.T. took it back to Return of 4Eva and performed "Rotation," filling the room with that southern sound and heavy 808 bass. At the end of his song, he freestyled the rest of his verse, causing the whole crowd two pause and give awed looks.
Between every song, K.R.I.T. turned his back to the crowd and spit on the stage, mentally and physically preparing himself as he screamed, "Y'all aint tired in this motherfucker yet, are you?"
A group of rowdy frat boys stood front and center, screaming their asses off in an effort to show they were ready for more. The momentum then slowed down as the melodic keys accompanied samples in his song "REM" off of his latest mixtape. As the ramp of the song came near the post, K.R.I.T. let his fans know the inspiration behind the lyrics about fulfilling your dreams. "I just wanted to express how I feel!"
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At this point the venue was full of fans all the way back to the bar, the situation upgraded significantly from the beginning of the night. The crowd gave K.R.I.T. that hometown love; it was a perfect time for to bring up on stage his special guest, Big Sant. It was also a perfect time to splash water into the sea of people to amp them up so he could crowd surf like a rock star.
That's when he proved he was a rock star by screaming to the crowd, "Yall know I'm about that country shit!" The funky synths kicked in with the chopped-soul sample and drove the crowd wild; K.R.I.T. began to wind things down with his radio hit, "Country Shit."
After an hour and a half of performing, K.R.I.T. wrapped his show up by shaking the hand of every person in the crowd. From the far right hand side of the stage to the other, he took shoes, hats and CDs from the reaching arms of the crowd and signed each individual item for his fans. It was a last gesture of his appreciation for the people who support his music. The underrated, underground artist made sure to let his fans know he will be a King Remembered In Time.
Critic's Notebook: Last night: Clive Carson, Smoke Dza and Big K.R.I.T. performing at Club Red in Tempe. Personal Bias: Any rapper who features B.B. King and Bun B in the same mixtape gets an A+ in my book. The Crowd: An eclectic mix of college students, thug-ass dudes and hardcore hip-hop fans all coexisting with each other as they passed joints and blunts. Overheard in the Crowd: "Where the fuck's that lean?" as Big K.R.I.T. announced he's about that "Country Shit." Random Notebook Dump: Local rapper Juice McCain sat beside me with Clive Carson as we all felt the Z-list treatment when security wouldn't allow us inside the venue. Didn't bruise my ego, but for them, probably a different story.