Schoolboy Q, Vicar Street 27/5/14

Schoolboy Q has had a great year so far. After releasing his much delayed Oxymoron in February and debuting at number 1 on the Billboard chart, he is now wrapping up a long tour over America and Europe. The Oxymoron tour has given him his first chance to visit countries such as Ireland and it is clear that after some anger at the delay of his album release, he has earned his self proclaimed title of Man Of The Year.

Opening act Rene Brown did a great job in showcasing her talent as an MC. She recevied a warm welcome, especially when rapping over familiar beats such as Watching Movies by Mac Miller and took time between songs to smoke joints and trade twitter names with the crowd. She is very comfortable on stage and has a stronger voice than a lot of male rappers when performing. With the right promotion, she has the charisma and potential to become a big player in hip hop.

Isaiah Rashad played a reletively short set, sticking to material from Clivia Demo, his debut mixtape. Highlights included Shot You Down and R.I.P Kevin Miller, in which he repeatedly asked the crowd whether they live for ‘bitches & blunts’ or ‘weed & money’. He’s an incredibly entertaining performer as he storms side to side on the stage with the mannerisms of Old Dirty Bastard. The passion that he has on record translates perfectly to the stage and it’s clear that lyrically, he is on par with his fellow TDE label mates Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul & Jay Rock. He may be the new kid on the label, but he has the raw skill and talent that he needs to hang with the top dawgs.

Schoolboy Q opens his show with the menacing Fuck LA, exploding onto stage shouting ‘fuck what rappers say, bitch I am L.A‘. This level of energy is maintained during singles like Banger and Collard Greens. What Schoolboy Q does a lot better than many rappers these days, is that he lets people hear what they want. He has expressed his unhappiness with singles like Hands On The Wheel before, but knows that people still expect to hear it live. Older songs like BetIGotSumWeed may not hit as hard as Blind Threats, but every song serves the purpose to please the casual and die hard fans alike. He is also someone who has a lot of fun on stage and seems genuinely overwhelmed at the fact that his following in Ireland isn’t just “30 people”.

Before his encore of Oxymoron and Man Of The Year, which had the biggest mosh pit I’ve seen at a rap show, he takes a minute to thank the crowd for their support and says that “my happiness is your happiness”. It is clear that he is very happy and grateful to be where he is and it is the same attitude given back from the crowd throughout his entire set.

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Grandmaster Flash, The Village 4 May

Grandmaster Flash is one of the pioneers of hip hop DJing and his songs such as ‘The Message’ helped to elevate hip hop music to a new level in the early 80s. It was safe to say that I wasn’t sure what to expect from this set but I knew it would be something special. The oddest thing about the night for me was the starting time, as doors were at 11 and Flash himself didnt make an appeanance to closer to half 12, but this is to be expected at certain hip hop shows. The support act was a DJ and a rapper playing a mix of originals and a few classics such as ‘Hip Hop’ by Dead Prez & ‘The Next Episode’ by Dr. Dre. They had some success in getting people ready for the show, my only problem was that they played some songs that Grandmaster Flash also played in his set. A support act like this should know what to expect from the main act and try their best to refrain from playing some of the same songs if at all possible.

Perhaps people who had bought their ticket to see a Grandmaster Flash show, expecting him to be rapping along to his songs, may have been slightly disappointed but, there is no denying that for only €15 it is a great night out and you will probably hear at least 4 of your favorite songs. To try and give a list of every song that he played would be impossible but the artists played throughout the night included Wu Tang Clan, Eminem, Dr. Dre, DJ Kool & various other hip hop acts. It was a great chance to hear those certain songs that don’t get the airplay at hip hop nights throughout Dublin for whatever reason.

Unfortunately the only other DJ set that I can compare to this is Madlib’s a couple of weeks ago in the Sugar Club. Although they are both hip hop DJs, there is a great contrast between their shows. Madlib caters to the sample lovers and his select fan base, whereas a Grandmaster Flash set feels more like going to a house party or a club night. Not to take anything away from Madlib’s set because it was brilliant, but Flash definitely has the ‘party over here, fuck you over there’ mentality down to a t. Closing with his classic hit ‘ White Lines’, it was about half 2 in the morning before he actually left the stage which was a nice change of pace to the usual over by 11 o’ clock type gig. I would recommend this show highly to any hip hop fan for a night out and anyone with a love for DJ sets as his is one of the best around.