Elzhi, RoQ'y TyRaid, So Realistic Chasers Bar & Night Club Wednesday, August 1, 2012
"Is hip-hop in the house?" was the rhetorical question of the evening when Detroit rapper Elzhi raided Chasers in Scottsdale last night.
The answer? Most def.
The renowned lyricist who cut his teeth in Maurice Malone's Hip-Hop Shop spouted out the lyrics to "D.e.m.o.n.s.," saying, "If I broke the word down in acronyms, while using part logic, a demon could mean - destroying every man off narcotics." The crowd whooped and hollered as he repeated the verse without music.
"Did you get that?" he asked. "I hope that wasn't too deep for y'all, you know what I'm sayin'. Can I get deeper?"
If it was a challenge, the crowd and local support showed that they were more than capable of keeping up.
By the time I got to the cozy bar, Flagstaff emcee So Realistic was already rocking the mic. He hyped up the crowd with a couple of freestyle cuts that resonated with concertgoers and had hands waving from side-to-side.
After a quick break, RoQ'y TyRaid of local Phoenix collective Writer's Guild took the stage.
TyRaid continued raising the energy in the room with an unrelenting delivery and witty wordplay. "Put In On Wax," set the tone for his 30-minute set in which he rapped about everything from Jerry Sandusky to Facebook and even woman woes from the road.
Four dancers jolted around the stage behind him while a couple of freestyles of his own elicited some "oh's" and "ah's" from the crowd. One of my personal favorite moments of the set was TyRaid's rousing rendition of "Bible verse" Ezekiel 25:17, made famous by Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction.
The performance was animated and engaging, proving to be the perfect warm up for Elzhi.
I barely had time to get a refill at the bar when the Slum Village alum got started. Right off the bat the crowd had a bounce in their knees as they sang along to tracks like "Halftime" and "Life's A !!" off of his breakthrough record, Elmatic.
Although it was a mid-week show, Arizona hip-hop fans made the most of Elzhi's first trip to Arizona as a solo artist. He indulged them all rattling off track after track with his rhythmic prose. He involved the crowd often, quizzing them on their lyrical aptitude and Detroit knowledge.
"Do you remember Contra?" he asked. "What's that code?"
"Up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right, B, A, start," the crowd responded. The back-and- forth banter played like that all night.
It was pretty amazing to watch as bar after bar poured out of Elzhi effortlessly. He tried to wrap up the set with "Detroit State of Mind," but the crowd egged him on for more. After a couple more songs he finally called it a night after a little more than an hour on stage. He hung out afterwards to pose for pictures and dish out autographs.
"I really like little spots like this because you get to really connect with the people," he says.
We like that, too.
Last night:Elzhi, RoQ'y TyRaid, So Realistic
The Crowd: Young and enthusiastic hip-hoppers.
Overheard in the crowd: Something about So Realistic missing part of his set because he was delayed by cops on his way to the show?