If you are still unconvinced of the magic that happens at Le Poisson Rouge, let me put all your doubts aside now. Sunday night, as a feature in NPR’s First Listen series, Schoolboy Q performed an intimate show at LPR in honor of the release of his highly anticipated Oxymoron, which hit stores today. RSVPs went in less than 30 minutes last Thursday and I completely missed out. Dejected, I continued my weekend with a sense of failure lingering over my shoulder. But Saturday afternoon, as I performed my usual afternoon twitter surfing, I saw that NPR’s Microphone Check announced 5 more VIP/media tickets were available through a hip-hop trivia contest on twitter. Needless to say, I got mine.
Concert Review – Schoolboy Q at Le Poisson Rouge
About an hour after the doors opened, Top Dawg’s Schoolboy Q stepped out in a variation of his classic Q bucket hat and announced that he has no setlist for the night, so we should prepare for a really raw show. His album comes out in two days, he reminded us, but he knows that we all want more than just Oxymoron. So with that, he jumped into fan favorite oldies “Banger” (MOSHPIT) followed by “There He Go” and “Nightmare on Figg Street.”
As casual as an artist performing for his crowd could get, Schoolboy gave off an aura of friendliness and ease that you don’t see in rap these days. There was no barrier between the crowd and him, as blunts and conversation were passed from floor to stage throughout the night. Even his stage presence illustrated his lack of care for the typical rap show. As his DJ looked for the file for the next song, Q showed no restraint, yelling “Hey stupid, what the fuck?” as he laughed and told the crowd to bear with him. It might have seemed unprofessional to some, but it ended up setting the stage for an intimate night of laughs and raps. Q’s album was coming out in two days and he wanted to celebrate with the people that made it possible—his fans.
After a few moments, the sound of his daughter leaked from the speakers, and Q stepped-up and turned-up for “Gangsta,” the opening track from Oxymoron. He followed this with another throwback, as fellow TDE rapper Ab-Soul emerged from behind the stage to rock “Druggys Wit Hoes Again” to the crowd’s (thrilled) surprise. In return, we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Solo Ho who was promptly kicked off the stage by Q saying “Alright bye. Bye. Bye. Fuck that.”
Continuing with the loose spontaneity of his show, Q debated what to play next, eventually deciding on “Blind Threats” followed by “Collard Greens,” with Schoolboy rapping both Raekwon and Kendrick’s respective verses. He hit another favorite, “Hands On The Wheel” which had the crowd reciting every lyric, waving their hands in the air and wishing they were back in their cars driving through a 2AM summer night.
Anyone who’s familiar with Schoolboy’s live show can clearly see that his energy is fueled entirely by the energy of the crowd, and vice versa. As he performed Oxymoron cut “What They Want,” he was building up the crowd’s energy until it was just about ready to explode. And if you ask the terrified and dazed girls who were standing next to me when Q jumped into the crowd for “Yay Yay,” you can be sure that explode we did.
Schoolboy returned to the stage after mobbing out with the fans, and turned it down a notch with “Blessed.” The mixed crowd didn’t give the expected amount of energy on this one, so Q reminded them that he doesn’t believe in racism and that when you’re at his shows, you can sing the lyrics no matter what color or race you subscribe to. Needless to say, the crowd turned-up.
Finally, we heard one of my favorite joints on the project, the Alchemist produced “Break The Bank,” followed by a short speech in which Q admits that he wants to give us his voice, but he also just wants to hear the album — after all, he had spent 2 years working on the project and it’s finally about to come out. So quietly, we swayed and bumped, just as Schoolboy did, to “Studio,” an Oxymoron track featuring BJ the Chicago Kid. Before the end of the night, Q laughed as he said “I see a lot of ya’ll got the bootleg already. Some of ya’ll out there rapping, I’m like ‘ahhh you got the bootleg.’ I ain’t mad at you, whatever.” And then, with the crowd cheering him on in full support, Schoolboy Q finished the night with the most appropriately titled track from Oxymoron – “Man of the Year”.
If the LPR performance was any indication, 2014 is very likely to be Schoolboy Q’s year. Oxymoron hit stores today but most of us have been bumping it non-stop for a week now because, well, it’s something irresistible — something you don’t find in hip-hop too often. It’s skill and versatility blended over truth, a deep, dark history, and an even brighter future. Sure, it’s Top Dawg Entertainment; It might even be album of the year. But most certainly, it’s Schoolboy Q.
Watch the full NPR performance here:
Article by Arpan Somani