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Schoolboy Q at Mill City Nights, 4/20/14

Schoolboy Q at Mill City Nights, 4/20/14
Photo by Mark N. Kartarik

Schoolboy Q
with Isaiah Rashad, Vince Staples, and Audio Push
Mill City Nights, Minneapolis
Sunday, April 20, 2014

Schoolboy Q rolled into Minneapolis for two shows on 4/20 for his #OXYMORON tour, bringing excellent openers to round out a blunted night of turnt up hip-hop. This review covers the 7 p.m. show.

See also:
Slideshow: Schoolboy Q wows at Mill City Nights


The night represented a range of West Coast artists, including Audio Push, of "Teach Me How to Jerk" fame (though the song didn't wind up in their setlist). Pricetag came out with a joint lit, encouraged others to light up, and immediately security pulled someone out of the audience. "Smoke your shit on the low though," he said. "Ya'll niggas ain't me." After chiding security slightly about cracking down, he later thanked them for their stage-diving response time. It was a highly energetic set, hindered backing tracks that took something away from the duo's unique vocal presences.
Schoolboy Q at Mill City Nights, 4/20/14

Schoolboy Q at Mill City Nights, 4/20/14
Photos by Mark N. Kartarik

With little time in between, Vince Staples stepped to the stage to "Trunk Rattle", from his latest project Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2.  His low-key menace is best suited to a record you sit with, but he was trying to stretch his voice to fit the room. As a test to see how turnt everyone was, the DJ played "Drop it Like it's Hot" and the crowd's movement intensified as if by science. He made it his personal mission to keep them at that level throughout, and he succeeded thanks to well-written material and a nice handle of the often-times tedious audience participation. After getting their attention by asking the people to join him for the hook "Oh You Scared," he asked the front row to flip off those in the back, and vice versa, and soon it was a venue full of people yelling "Fuck you" several times for the triumphant "Humble." He succeeded in bringing big responses from a crowd that seemed unfamiliar with his work.


There was a bit of a delay afterwards as the DJ set up for Isaiah Rashad's set, who took it upon himself to stall the crowd with some banter and scat beatboxing that eventually led smoothly into his opener "Ronnie Drake." The youngest TDE member brought a tinge of his Southern roots to his Cilvia Demo material, and live his voicing almost has a Tom Waits harmonic roughness. Songs like "Modest" and "Shot You Down" came off huge, and Rashad's laid-back demeanor brought a nuance to a uniquely strong set. Introducing his closer "R.I.P. Kevin Miller" with Master P's original "Weed and Money" as stagehands motioned that he was past his set time, Rashad proved his songs and stage ethic to be in line with the rest of the TDE roster.

 

After whetting the audience with some Chief Keef and A$AP Ferg, the long-awaited Q came forward, sporting a sort of toned-down Pharrell hat which is light years ahead of those god-awful bucket hats he's trying so hard to bring back. He worked his way through new and old songs, feeding off the crowd's energy but occasionally relying too much on their knowledge of the lyrics. Big songs like "Hands On the Wheel" and "Druggys and Hoes Again" saw the screaming fans taking over vocal duty for a good percentage of the song, though it was nice to hear Q take over Ab Soul's verse. "My album when it dropped went number one thanks to you guys," he said of his latest Oxymoron. The new songs in the set took on a new life live, with Q's aggressive bark bleeding into polyrhythms and vivid imagery to great effect. 
Schoolboy Q at Mill City Nights, 4/20/14
Schoolboy Q at Mill City Nights, 4/20/14
Photos by Mark N. Kartarik

A Schoolboy Q show is at times an odd room, considering he consistently encouraged the mostly white audience to sing the N-word along with him. Other than that, the enthusiasm he inspires is usually a plus. He can use it to bring surefire hits like "Collard Greens" and "Brand New Guy" to new heights, but he can also use it as a crutch, putting in less than a full effort knowing the people are going to turn up anyway. It works, for example, on the infectious sing-song chorus of songs one of the highlights "Break the Bank" to have the massive crowd joining in and filling in, but the intimate detailing on "Blessed" lost something by incorporating them. He guarantees a nuts audience though, which always makes for a great performance, and he seemed genuinely appreciative of everyone in attendance.

"'Hip-hop' saved my life is bullshit. You guys saved my life," he quipped, attributing his coming up from poverty to the devotion of his fans. And they wanted nothing more than to go insane at the show. Closing songs "Yay Yay" and "Man of the Year" are two of his best and got the biggest responses yet. He goaded the audience by saying they had to beat the second show's enthusiasm. I can't attest to if they did but it's definitely towards the top of the list of big responses I've seen at rap shows in general.

Personal Bias: I was most excited for the openers, who've each dropped one of my favorite albums of 2014. Q's Oxymoron didn't really live up to the strengths of some of the singles.

Random Notebook Dump: I rarely ever hear a DJ drop the "I Don't Like" original version, even though it's so much better than the remix.

The Crowd: I attended the first show, which sold out quickly and was 18+, so, young and excited.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Wait, I've never heard of this guy. Let's go grab a drink."

Setlist:

Fuck LA
Hands On The Wheel
What They Want
How We Feeling
Druggys Wit Hoes Again
Bet I Got Some Weed
Hell Of A Night
The Purge
Collard Greens
Gangsta
Blind Threats
My Hatin' Joint
Studio
There He Go
Brand New Guy
Work Remix
m.A.A.d. city
Blessed
Break The Bank
Yay Yay
Man Of The Year

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