with A$AP Ferg, Get Cryphy, and DJ DMil
Myth Nightclub, St. Paul
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony returned to Minneapolis to play to a devoted local audience at the Myth this past Saturday. In the mid-'90s, the Cleveland group -- represented by only four of the five original members -- helped define melodic gangsta rap for generations to come. After over 20 years in rap, they've maintained the tongue-twister skills and vibrant stage energy that drew attention in their early career.
See Also: Slideshow: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at Myth, 2/8/14
The bill promised three acts with a rep for high-energy performances appropriate for a stage this size. What the bill did not reflect is the slew of struggle rappers and DJs thrown into the middle of the mix, which stymied the momentum. Some local rap acts like Absent and SP Styles played short sets of a few songs each, but so did some non-name rappers from places like L.A. and Tacoma, which didn't really make a whole lot of sense. The bars were mediocre at best from anyone not listed on the bill and their presence on stage was less invigorating than confusing. It's not unprecedented that promoters showcase small-name talent during a big show like this, but by the seventh act it got to be trying.
The curation of the show was pretty poor, evidenced by Get Cryphy's always bombastic set, which was inexplicably sandwiched between a rapper who said this was his fourth show ever and an unknown DJ spinning filler material. Jimmy 2 Times, Plain Ole Bill, and Last Word -- who doubled as hype man, shouting lyrics whenever the mood struck -- killed with the brand of high-octane club hits they've proven rile up audiences. The crowd's polite attentiveness for the preceding rap acts turned to the standard upheaval as the trio spun short bursts of bangers on six turntables. But rather than maintain that energy level by leading into the acts people actually came to see, Cryphy was followed by another long stretch of time dominated by acts no one came to see. The hype work Cryphy is known for went to waste as the show continued to plod on.
A$AP Ferg's set suffered because of it, as he seems to rely on a giant reception from a turned up crowd to truly deliver his best. Coming out to "Dump Dump," he started huge and the crowd seemed to regain the energy Cryphy bestowed them earlier. Sadly, it seemed like some mic issues and a seemingly tired voice held Ferg back, but he carried the most energy of any rapper yet to hit the stage. An attempt to create a wall-of-death mosh pit when he jumped into "Let It Go" -- which helped make his Soundset performance particularly memorable -- was not entirely successful, so he stopped the song and did it again. Then he played some A$AP Rocky songs, then "Shabba," and then he was done. With a quick burst of a set that still managed to repeat songs more than a few times, Ferg brought an appropriate amount of performative energy and left it at that.
When Bone Thugs hit the stage -- inexplicably to Oasis's "Champagne Supernova," of all things -- the night felt rectified as they burst through a number of huge tracks to a captive audience. Their rapid-fire, gospel-inspired Midwestern chop rap never goes out of style, and the group hit lots of classics culled from a large discography. The fans ranged in age, but all seemed equally excited. Many were singing along, dancing, or simply freaking out. The middle of the set was a tribute of sorts to three late legends -- Eazy-E, Notorious B.I.G., and 2Pac -- with whom the group has collaborated. They showcased examples of their solo work like "Cruisin' in My 64" and "California Love" before jumping into the collective tracks "Foe the Love of $," "Notorious Thugs," and "Thug Luv."
Exemplifying their timelessness and the staying power of their hits, Bone Thugs busted through a big set with the sway of the legends they are. Layzie Bone's absence didn't affect the show too much, as the other MCs are remarkably strong rappers individually and have a great grasp of intricate flows. Bizzy Bone definitely seemed like the crowd favorite, taking the lilted triplets into airy territory with a nasally flow that sounded amazing.
The crew invited Ferg back onstage for the gothic "Lord" off his Trap Lord album, and the combined efforts made for an impressive end to the set. Having already done a few points of karaoke-style semi-covers like "I Got 5 On It" and others, the show closed with basically a dance party with the rappers joining in on lyrics once in a while and a mass amount of dancing girls on stage. There's not many groups that could turn me around on a show so padded with the unnecessary, but the always impressive Bone Thugs are one of them.
Personal Bias: My patience for mediocre openers has basically worn away entirely. On paper, it seems like a great idea to open for an act like Bone Thugs, but if you're not ready for that stage (and none of the non-listed acts were), playing a show like Saturday's was really just shooting yourself in the foot. I've seen rappers work for years perfecting their craft to the point where they can play shows this size, and in fine-tuning the craft they've figured how to capture any audience that might not know them. This was not true for anyone trotted out last night, and their staid performances felt like a burden to slog through instead of an edifying moment of learning about a new artist. You're now forever associated with me being bored, so good job guys.
Random Notebook Dump: Nice to see DJ DMil play some local joints like Anchormen's "Southside" during his set, but I've never really seen DJs gladly invite the audience to make requests. Also, don't play videos of your nephew and grandmother dancing to Rack City; nobody needs that. Waiting the requisite hour or so for him to work his way through T-Pain videos was fine, and the screen projecting the current song's video also showed tweets from fans which was maybe cool for somebody. The tweets slowly moved from song requests to appeals to get the show on the road.
The Crowd: Old and young, pretty sizable for an older group.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Who is this guy, now?"
Crept and We Came
Let the Law End
Thuggish Ruggish Bone
1st of Tha Month
Cruisin' in My 64
Foe the Love Of $
I Got 5 On It
The Weed Song