Boy I am glad I decided to go this show at the last minute after the Death Grips show scheduled for last Tuesday was canceled.
I got to the Paradise around 8, got in pretty quick and got a sick spot really close to the front of the stage. Around 8:30, Kool A.D. took the stage and got the ball rolling on the evening. I wasn't a big fan of Das Racist when they were around, but I must say I liked Kool A.D's solo stuff. It was pretty chill, jazzy material with some bizarre yet interesting wordplay. He was also a completely hilarious dude cracking jokes the whole set about everything from how he was the next Big Sean/Kendrick Lamar/Jay Electronica (obvious reference to the release of "Control", which has been burning up the internet over the past couple days.) to how his beats were made and what they went through to get out to the crowd. His music had a much different tone than the rest of the artists on the bill and he made for a nice change of pace from the more intense rappers that filled up the rest of the bill. Kool A.D. was a pleasant surprise and a solid opener for the show.
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire was next. He got added to the show at the last minute and I'm very thankful that he did because he tore the place up. I had only a heard song or two by him prior to this show but his set last night guaranteed I'll be looking further into his stuff. His flow is very different and explosive and he had a lot of sick bass-heavy beats and catchy-ass hooks. Not to mention, he was running around like a crazy person for most of his set getting the crowd amped up (which was successful, he had almost as strong of as a reaction as Killer Mike and El-P.) Like Kool A.D., he was also hilarious when he addressed the crowd. He even stopped a song because people weren't clapping properly (I don't remember the exact quote, but it was priceless.) Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire is a hell of a performer and he at the top of my list of rappers to check out after this excellent and memorable performance.
Despot was up next. I knew next to nothing about him aside from his verse on "Tougher Colder Killer" by El-P. Safe to say after his set last night, he definitely made an impression on me. His style is really interesting with a lot of personal songs with abrasive beats and lyrical delivery. You can tell why El-P signed him because he has a similar swagger and intensity while still doing his own thing. Continuing with the theme of the evening, Despot was also incredibly funny delivering all his jokes with a deadpan delivery and impeccable timing. His set also had what was probably the funniest moment of the show, when he took a break halfway through the set to lead the crowd in an aerobics routine. El-P, Kool A.D., Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire and their respective DJ's came out to join him and it was just really entertaining to watch all these dudes do this ridiculous synchronized routine in the middle of a hip-hop show. Despot also said that his long in the works full-length album produced by Ratatat is actually near completion and should be out before too long (He said to prove that it was actually real: he had to play numerous songs from it, which he did.) Despot can definitely spit and put on an entertaining set, I look forward to hearing his record whenever it comes out.
It was finally time for Killer Mike and El-P to hit the stage. It was cool because aside from performing as Run the Jewels, they each got 30 minute solo sets. Both had stunning moments (Killer Mike's a cappella performance of "Reagan", the keytar solo during "$4Vic/Nothing but You+Me) and shared an immense appreciation for their fans. I have to give El-P a lot of props for his use of a live band and Killer Mike for doing a lot of verses with no or a very subtle beat. While their solo sets were great, when they came together for Run the Jewels the performance became legendary. The whole room was on fire from the second the beat the dropped on "Run the Jewels" and didn't waver till the house lights came on to end the show. The charisma and report between Killer Mike and El-P is off the charts. Both have totally unique styles that compliment each other so well and create a whirlwind atmosphere on-stage. The friendly rap battle vibe of the album hits the next level in a live setting. Each verse is rattled off with unmatched ferocity as each man tries to one-up the one another while simultaneously showing each other mutual respect. Killer Mike and El-P have a unique bond that makes them like brothers and Run the Jewels is one of the strongest hip-hop collaborations of all-time. Just an outstanding, high-energy and hilarious show that shows just how strong underground hip-hop is today. RUN THE JEWELS!
Kool A.D. 7.5/10
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire 8.5/10
Killer Mike 8.5/10
Run the Jewels 9.5/10
12/27 Four Year Strong
1/25 August Burns Red
1/31 Machine Head