The Road to Paid Dues tour graced the Majestic Theatre with its presence Sunday night. The night was marked by hours of quality lyrical hip-hop while artists spared no expense in laughing and clowning with the crowd. For any night of the week, this was a wild show.
The opening act consisted of two rappers from independent record label Black Cloud Music. One of the two artists, Noa James, is a West Coast Biggie Smalls rap doppelganger. He used an unconventional but deep cadence in his flows. Curtiss King, the second performer, was a light-skinned, “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”-dressed emcee that brought a poetic flow with his flattop. James and King are technically not a group but they worked together on stage well enough to be one.
The first few songs they performed sounded almost exactly like something The Cool Kids would have made; their slow instrumentals with grimy bass lines, bells and tight drums were taken straight out of Chuck Inglish’s handbook. The rest of their set had a typical Dr. Dre, Californian feel to it, and they even dedicated a “Regulators” ode to the late Nate Dogg. Although the beats the group used were not all that original, their lyrics were very real and filled with excitement to be on the road performing.
King told the crowd, “Don’t think of this as fifteen minutes of new music from some artists that you’ve never heard of - think of this as fifteen minutes of dreams coming true.”
Fashawn was the next rapper to hit the stage. Many first heard of the Fresno, Calif.-based artist from XXL’s 2010 “Freshman Class” issue. He has worked and toured with many industry heavyweights, including Dilated Peoples, The Alchemist, Blu, Ghostface Killah, Wiz Khalifa and Brother Ali. Fashawn typically uses clean samples on his beats and speaks about his struggles growing up. His music is good, but for some reason, he didn’t seem too energetic on stage. King and James were more energetic in front of the crowd than Fashawn. He did perform some of his new material, but unfortunately it was quite disappointing— Fashawn seems to have fallen victim to what I will call the “Meek Mill Syndrome,” with symptoms that include using southern trap beats, flowing with an Ace Hood cadence and dumbing down lyrics.
Nobody could have prepared for how cold Prof was that night. He was hilarious, performed an unheard-of musical style and put on a crazy show. Before he even took the stage, the crowd chanted, “King Gampo,” the name of his acclaimed album from 2011. His first song was a Childish Gambino remix, which was obviously bad but definitely got the room excited. Then, he went right into his most popular song, “Gampo.” The crowd’s reaction was unbelievable; the hype this man creates is incredible.
“This is your party,” Prof said at one point.
Prof’s entire show was like a hip-hop mosh pit with drinks being thrown around and smoke filling the air. His DJ, DJ Fundo, is his longtime collaborator for these types of parties. Their constant back and forth dialogues about drinking and women could have easily been its own show. Between each record, the two of them would take shots, tell stories and come up with something for the crowd to do. The rapper from the south side of Minneapolis had swagger, jokes and hype, but most importantly he has talent.
“Put on a diaper ‘cause we about to shit on ourselves,” Prof said. He could switch up the flow from a dance track to a gritty block banger and finished with a soulful blues song. Prof is long overdue for popular acclaim.
After Prof finished his performance, a sizeable chunk of the crowd left. Unfortunately for them, Murs put on a good show. It was definitely a different style than Prof: more relaxed and contemplated but a good time nonetheless. Murs is typically classified as an underground rapper, but at the same time he can still be found using stereotypical topics of discussion. Some tracks he performed, like “Whatuptho” and “Dirty Girl,” were solid, but not historic. He also spent an entire song, “67 Cutlass,” discussing how he smuggled drugs from Mexico into America and killed a policeman, only to tell the crowd that it wasn’t true afterwards.
All of the artists on the Road to Paid Dues tour are worth checking out, but Prof definitely ran away with this show.