Curren$y at Clubhouse Music Venue Last Night

Clubhouse Music Venue
Saturday, December 11, 2010

"I'll kick out anyone smoking reggie."

Those were Curren$y's first words to the audience at the Clubhouse Music Venue on the eventful last stop for the Smoker's Club Tour. The crowd -- mostly flat-brimmed baseball cap clad guys in their early 20s -- received the threat warmly. A few minutes later they tossed a few blunts onto the stage for him.

Curren$y's performance oscillated between introverted and interactive. When the lyrics got heady or complicated he'd close his eyes, face the side stage and wrap himself around the mic, bouncing slowly.

Then, more often than not, he would cut the beat and finish his last verse a cappella, prowling the stage and motioning the lyrics as he stared down the audience. The fans' knowledge of every song became apparent when the beat ceased but their sing along did not.

He never shouted or sped up his flow too much. He sounded just as good or better than he does on his albums, a statement I can make about very few rappers I've seen live.

To finish the show and tour, Curren$y dropped the mic, hopped off the stage and waded through the crowd, allowing his fans to get up close and touch him. That is how you turn casual fans into dedicated advocates.

I expected more collaborative joints (pun intended) between the tight-knit line up but Curren$y only brought Smoke DZA on stage for one song, "Skybourne."

Perhaps the real story of the night however, was the surprise appearances during the opening sets when Talib Kweli and Odd Future's designated stoner, Domo Genesis showed up. See below.

Nipsey Hu$$le
Prior to Nipsey's set, the crowd wasn't really popping. Eventually, he got them hyped up with his swagger like George Bush fresh off of his Crawford, Texas ranch. At one point he even tossed his Gucci sun glasses into the crowd.

Smoke DZA
Prior to Smoke DZA, the crowd was virtually dead. DZA finally got them dancing a little bit. At one point he brought out Domo Genesis of critic darling Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. He performed "Rolling Papers" from his album (get it for free!) of the same name. Do your self a favor and check this kid out if you like stoner rap. Domo Genesis and Los Angeles's OFWGKTA bring a fresh sound to the proverbial table. If that is not reason enough to seek out his music, the kid attends Arizona State University.

Strong Arm Steady
Strong Arm Steady (SAS), a trio out of california had great energy but the crowd was not very responsive because they appeared unfamiliar with the material. HIP HOP SHOWS ARE A TWO-WAY STREET PHOENIX! At one point Talib Kweli, who signed SAS to his Blacksmith Music label, shocked the crowd when he jumped on stage. They performed a collaborative joint and Kweli's "Get By." It generated a blip of electricity in an otherwise dull crowd, who came to see Nipsey Hu$$le and Curren$y. I'm surprised Kweli passed up the opportunity to perform "Papers Please," his SB1070 protest song.

Corner Boy P and Fiend
These Jets need some work.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Curren$y at Clubhouse Music Venue

Personal Bias: I find the idea of weed as the rallying point for a tour irksome.

The Crowd: 10:1 guy-in-a-flat-brimmed-baseball-cap-and-nikes to girl ratio.

Overheard: "Go back to rehab!" from the guy in front of me after 10 too many When I say fuck you'll say rehab!'s from an opening act.

Random Notebook Dump: There's another albino rapper besides Brother Ali!? Yup: Krondon of Strong Arm Steady. He has mad flow too.

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Chris Piel
Contact: Chris Piel