This week brings Seattle a bit of a millennial Fresh Fest—a package tour of A$AP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator, Danny Brown, and Vince Staples, all dudes who could headline midsize spots on their own in Seattle, all playing the WaMu Theater on Wednesday, November 11. Should be a good time—there’s a gang of hits (well, YouTube hits) between them, and they’ll likely be competing for who’s the most energetic onstage. Even though he’s on first, I hope nobody forgets that Vince is the only one to put out one of the year’s best rap albums.
That said, it’s been interesting to me to watch how corporate rap shows work as of late, when I do happen to emerge from my carbonite deep-freeze. I think of, say, the recent Young Thug show at Showbox Sodo, which was fucking awesome (he really rapped, y’all). I have noticed, though, that more and more, these shows start quick and end early, on a dime, like the fucking police just showed up. Sounds normal to you, maybe. This is a rap show we’re talking about. I literally turned around to order a drink while Thugger was doing “Free Gucci”—and by the time it was in my hand, techs were breaking down the turntables, the all-agers who had thronged the front were obediently marching for the exits, and security was informing us in the bar to kindly GTFO. The outside doors were locked and gated (scrreeech—wham!) so quick behind us that you’d have thought a hurricane was bearing down. Batten down the hatches, batches! It didn’t quite feel unfriendly, just… hella fast and impersonal, like how corporate rock shows go—well, except for the hostile pigs waiting outside. (Exactly why are you flexing on my Uber driver, dickhead?)
I certainly appreciate my friends and benefactors around the scene who allow me to go to shows when I want—and still need that plug, ahem—I’m just seeing a sea change in the bigger rooms from the old days of “rap time,” encores, and “meet me by the merch table.” As a fan, it’s an experiential thing, but I’m sure it’s all, uh, better for business.
Now, there’s a gang of other rap shows afoot—Thursday, November 12, brings both Waka Flocka Flame at the Showbox and Warren G and Slum Village (v. 3.5 or so) playing Nectar. And Tuesday, November 17, Nectar hosts Rhymesayers’ wild-ass Prof, who’s taken Nacho Picasso on tour—this might be the first time Nacho has played Nectar since Mayor Mike McGinn was turning up.
But back to Young Thug (as usual): I’ve been off that Slime Season 2 something serious, and recommend it highly. If you somehow still can’t find anything redeemable in today’s far and away most interesting rapper—who super-collides Lil’ Wayne, ODB, and Marilyn Manson into something wholly unrecognizable—and would rather wait for somebody to competently do something you’ve heard before, then in the words of one William Drayton Jr.: I can’t do nuttin’ for ya, man. Some people like psychedelics, and some people like sneakers. Walk your path.