Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, Blu and Exile, Nocando
Better than... wine and cheese at a museum
We remember the first time LACMA held a Through the Mic hip-hop concert. They did not know what to expect from this new audience they were bringing to the museum. Just as the show got underway all the liquor at the bar was gone while the wine stayed fully stocked. Several shows in now, they made sure there was plenty of vodka and whiskey to keep the hip-hop heads happy.
It may have been a night the DJs outshined the rappers. The crowd seemed most hyped when the series' co-curator and Los Angeles rap staple Murs stepped on stage wearing a Burbank Little League hoody and a kid's backpack to introduce Madlib for his DJ set.
We basically spent the entire time watching Madlib through the phones of fans in the front rows, as they recorded his whole set. That's probably the most annoying thing in today's concert scene. Put your phone down and watch the damn show. We never know what to expect from a Madlib set since the Beat Konducta's catalogue is so massive, especially when his set time is just 30 minutes. Classic hip-hop joints, obscure beats and foreign samples left some in the crowd confused, but most thrilled. It's great to see new generations of hip hop appreciate the artists and producers that have been holding it down for so long.
Freddie Gibbs came on to headline the night with Madlib as his DJ. Not sure where you rank Freddie Gibbs on the level of grimy rappers, but saying "Fuck the police" after every song in a museum in the Miracle Mile district made the rapper seem that much harder. Or how about asking, "Who's going home to get some pussy?" -- the question he asked before and after his song "Shame," which is about having a one-night stand -- catching some couples off-guard and causing guys to hesitate before looking their girl's way. The rapper originally from Gary, Indiana, and Madlib collaborated on a couple EPs released on Stonesthrow Records, with a full album anticipated later this year.
Earlier in the night Blu and DJ Exile hit the stage with several guest appearances including a collaboration with Fashwan and a freestyle with MED. Once again, the most impressive part of the set was when DJ Exile played beats on his MPC. Wearing his signature newsboy cap, he banged on his MPC with one hand, and held his cigarette in the other, taking puffs and making it look real easy.
Blu did cuts from his new album Give Me Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, and went all the way back to his 2007 debut release, Below the Heavens. His smooth flow and casual swagger on stage never gets old and the crowd rapped along.
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Also performing was Nocando, the rapper representing the now popular Low End Theory held at The Airliner every Wednesday.
It's awesome that LACMA has taken a chance on programming not typically seen in a museum environment. After all, it is art. And that familiar skunk-smelling substance causing occasional smoke clouds to rise above the crowd throughout the show might make LACMA the coolest museum in town.
The Crowd: I know beanies and crew-neck sweaters are cool, but on a hot summer night in L.A., too many people had sweat dripping down their faces.