We have entered the period where our world has been sufficiently messed up for a long enough period of time that it has seeped into the souls of many musicians. For every time we hear ‘My Humps’, it should be balanced by an artist that is aware enough to have a voice that says more than ‘don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me’.
Enter El-P and Lateef. As I’ve stated before, the industry is proclaiming that hip hop is dead, while it is merely resurrecting itself from an age of excess, it’s own dot com bust. Blinged-out crunk cups are giving way to the original mascot of the hip hop industry: passionate lyrics and angry beats.
The show, which was the most heavily male populated one I’ve been to at Mezzanine, was also the first Mezzanine show I’ve been searched at. Lateef came on soon after we arrived, and I was immediately impressed even though I went into this show pretty blind. He’s very fast paced and intense, the type that makes you wonder how he can remember all of the words. He comes from Oakland, where he was raised by parents who were former Black Panther members. While he provides social commentary, he retains an optimistic voice with head bouncing beats. I also really liked his back up singer. That guy could dance.
As the stage is set for El-P, intense dudes in military gear and ski masks come out with their instruments. You get that shiver that you get when you know you are about to witness a little bit of live anarchy. Suddenly, the R&B fades into the Michael Andrew’s version of ‘Mad World’. Being that I work in video games, I immediately am reminded of this ad for Halo 3 that has been really successful:
Anyway, close to the end of the song, El-P leaps onto stage decked out in an orange prison jumpsuit with blood trickling down his head like he’s got a minor head injury. They lurch straight into ‘Tasmanian Pain Coaster’. It’s a solid set, with a 10 minute or so lecture on how screwed up the world is. It’s a good one though. Aesop Rock come out and does a song with him. As I’m leaving (hey, it’s Sunday) I hear Flyentology, the song that he collaborated with Trent Reznor on. No mention of T-Rez. WTF? Maybe I was the only NIN crossover in the corwd, but give the man some props.