DMX at Epic, 6/2/12
DMX with Tank Dog of Ruff Ryder's MN
To introduce the show, DJ Enferno once again manned the tables, with help from D Mil, and peppered an opening set of modern hits with some late-90s rap and a local tribute to the Southside by the Anchormen. After two forgettable opening acts who let their backing track do most of the legwork, Tank Dog showed out for the Minnesota chapter of the Ruff Ryders with some hardcore raps about murder and motorcycles. Backed by an unprecedented 31-person entourage, he rode his motorcycle onto the stage and turned a one man rap performance into an example of bike gang solidarity. Amidst sound effects of engines revving, glass shattering, guns shooting and police sirens blaring, there was a whole mess of people onstage but thankfully only one microphone. It was overwhelming and a little distracting but certainly made the passable rapping more engaging.
After Tank Dog's set, DJ Kid Capri came out of nowhere to thank the audience for the support: "We need the work, and this is where we work," he said, though I don't recall seeing him DJ or interject again at any point in the night. Soon, the beat for "We Right Here" dropped and DMX swung in with the grunts and the "What!"'s the people had been waiting for. Nearly everyone knew the words to a good majority of the songs. While DMX also seemed to have a backtrack to lean on, his voice came through loud and powerful, especially with a good chunk of the crowd amplifying his choruses. This could certainly be something he tells all his audiences, but he pointed out Minneapolis as a city that really listens to and appreciates lyrics. "I'm gonna reach somebody tonight," he said at one point; "If it ain't but one person, I've accomplished something."
DMX has an energy about him that is unique to most rappers working in as hard-edged a lane this. It feels raw and volatile but tempered, like a recovering rageaholic. As the set progressed, the immediate ferocity of barking lyrics and violent posturing gradually revealed more of the rapper's brutal emotional honesty in his presentation.
For someone who dissed Drake publicly on the radio, DMX has a strangely similar career path, though the sound is drastically different. Both artists have turned self-doubt, pain and emotional struggle into chart-topping hit songs, but DMX is far more intense and truthful when he bears his soul. Even so, he slowly but surely revealed his lighter side as he began to have more fun. Moments of goofing with the audience, including passing a total of three bottles of Hennessy through the crowd ("All you gotta do is sip, and pass... Don't hold onto the fuckin' bottle; it's 'sip and pass' not 'guzzle and hold'!") and hitting on female fans, showed he was enjoying himself, and it brought a nuance to otherwise heavy material.
Critic's Bias: Again, this is a show I didn't pay for. I usually enjoy shows more if I don't spend any money on them.
Overheard in the Crowd: Someone in the VIP section made it rain on the crowd at a random time between sets; few people even really noticed and the gesture kind of went to waste. Those that actually stooped to pick up a few dollars off the ground seemed pleased.
Random Notebook Dump: Despite being 10 feet away when it happened, someone in the crowd got stabbed early into DMX's set and I didn't find out until later. Epic has drawn trouble at a few of these shows, and I hope the venue can deal with it more appropriately so that these shows can continue happening.
The Crowd: Similar to past Epic shows, though more of a presence of rap nerds.
We Right Here
Who We Be
One More Road To Cross
Ruff Ryder's Anthem
Get It On The Floor
Get At Me Dog
Touch It Remix
Love My Niggas
What These Bitches Want
Where The Hood At
Party Up (Up In Here)
X Gon' Give It To Ya
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