Concert Review | Beast Coast, TDE team up to deliver entertaining set
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 02:10
The Paradise Rock Club hosted some of hip-hop’s finest lyricists this past Friday, delighting the crowd with music from The Underachievers, Ab-Soul and Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era crew. Situated close to the Boston University campus, Paradise Rock Club was packed with countless college students and provided a lively atmosphere for both dedicated fans and casual listeners.
The Underachievers are the least known group of the three. A duo originating from Flatbush, Brooklyn, The Underachievers, along with Pro Era, are a part of the Beast Coast movement — an east coast-based hip-hop collective. However, what sets this duo apart from other modern rap acts is their pairing of intense subjects with their sheer lyrical ability. The two rap about third eye vision and spirituality with a sound reminiscent of the hip-hop group Hieroglyphics, as well as fellow tour member Ab-Soul. They easily combine these topics with a swift flow that is similar, at times, to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. This interesting approach to a genre that has recently embraced rappers with heavy drug influences — such as Schoolboy Q and Danny Brown — is evident on their debut mixtape, “Indigoism,” one of the most impressive releases of the year.
After fellow performer Chevy Woods concluded his set, The Underachievers stormed onto the stage as “I’m In It,” the graphic track off Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” blasted through the speakers. Although their talent and energy were undeniable, the duo suffered from a lack of stage presence. This, along with some technical issues with their DJ, led to an underwhelming performance. Unoriginal “Make some noise, Boston!” requests quickly felt lazy and awkward. However, the two rappers were fully capable of keeping up with their complex rhymes in a live setting, with “Maxing Out,” “Gold Soul Theory” and an encore performance of “Herb Shuttles” kept the crowd excited and intrigued.
Nonetheless, with some songs cut short because of problems on the turntables and an overpowering bass drowning out the occasional line, The Underachievers were unable to live up to the hype that typically surrounds them.
Black Hippy member and Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) signee Ab-Soul followed The Underachievers with a wisdom rarely seen in hip-hop today. At 26, the Carson, Calif. rapper was the oldest of the artists on Friday, and it showed in his performance. His ability to control the crowd echoed his role model and main influence, Jay-Z. During his performance of “Illuminate” from the fantastic 2012 project “Control System,” Ab-Soul asserted, “I used to wanna rap like Jay-Z / now I feel I could run laps around Jay-Z” — and it seemed as if the audience believed this bold claim. A confident swagger supplemented his clarity, something that is a rarity at rap concerts. Indeed, each of the TDE affiliate’s wordplay-filled lines was delivered in a crisp tone. “Bohemian Grove” had the crowd grooving, while “Pineal Gland” had most concertgoers rapping along to the chilling piano loop. Most importantly, the west coast emcee had terrific charisma when addressing the attendees. At one point, he bragged he was the best rapper of all time, and after his second song, “Track Two,” he joked about the coincidence of the track’s title in his set. A command of the microphone and superb stage presence made Ab-Soul’s performance the best of the night.
The show culminated with a performance by Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era. The teen prodigy and his crew were accompanied by Massachusetts native and DJ/producer Statik Selektah who added some great scratching to the music. While Joey’s sound was far less polished in a live setting compared to the smooth flow that he demonstrated on his first mixtape, “1999” (2012), he stayed true to his newer “Summer Knights” (2013) style. “Waves,” one of the best songs of Joey’s young career, was drowned out by excessive bass — a huge disappointment. On the other hand, Statik Selektah’s scratching for the MF DOOM-produced “World Domination” was one of the highlights of the performance. Still, Joey was easily at his best when surrounded by his crew, Pro Era. A La $ole and Nyck Caution, both members of the Beast Coast collective, showed off their flows on “Resurrection of Real,” and CJ Fly rhymed a cappella when the entire crew was on stage together. Watching this large group on stage was a beautiful moment, showcasing hip-hop in its purest form. Young fans in the crowd were able to see a group of rappers taking turns rhyming, and with the heavy New York influence, a Wu-Tang Clan parallel could definitely be drawn.
Overall, the show was a thrilling event. More importantly, the concert demonstrated that hip-hop is a genre that is far from dead — a new wave of young artists, ripe with creativity and talent, are spreading their knowledge one city at a time.