Monday, March 19, 2007
Clipse @ The Belly-Up, 3-17-07
There's a line on the first Kanye West album where he goes, "Always said that if I rapped I'd say somethin' significant / but now I'm rappin' 'bout money, hoes and rims again."
Clipse do both better than anybody right now. Amid all the cocaine references, there's plenty of talk about cash, women and worldly possessions. But unlike pop rappers, it's not idle bragging just to get attention. Like any skilled storyteller, they rap with wit and depth — and authentic passion. The fire in their guts comes through on their verses and makes their albums so exciting to hear over and over.
You aren't going to get a lesson on MLK, but you aren't going to get all the same tired old references either.
On stage, they keep the focus on the flow and lyrics. Clipse came packing a DJ who played their tracks as backing, but they didn't lean on him. A lot of rappers let the backing tracks do most the work while they run around the stage, pose and grab their stupid-ass pants. Clipse perched themselves on the edge of the stage, only moving occasionally to switch places, and quickly worked up a sweat.
Maybe it was because it was St. Patrick's Day. Maybe it was just because it was a hip-hop show. But everyone in the crowd, even right up front, was extremely polite. The slightest elbow bump got an immediate "Sorry man," and a "No man, it's cool," as though the crowd was too hyped to see their underground heroes to eff it up over a little accidental nudge.
Clipse got the house on its feet by opening with "Momma I'm So Sorry," then quickly kicked it up by going back to "What Happened to That Boy," with at least the first three rows singing along to every word of even the most complex rhymes.
After a few more "Hell Hath No Fury" tracks, Clipse brought out the other two members of the Re-Up Gang, the group they formed for their "We Got it for Cheap" mixtapes, to do a few tracks from Volume 2. The last third of the set was a mix of "Fury" tracks and classics off their first album, including "Virginia," "Cot Damn" and, of course, "Grindin'."
The show was relatively short, though, with them passing on some of "Fury's" best tracks like "Hello New World" and "Trill." Despite the quickness, it was still heart-stopping. In the same week that Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were inducted into the rock Hall of Fame, Clipse reminded us of everything rap can still be.
Afterward, Malice came out to chat with fans, take photos and, with a little extra coaxing from my wing-girl Kate, strike the Heisman pose for the blog.
(The hand goes out, but we're letting that slide)
Clipse — Momma I'm So Sorry (MP3)
Clipse — Hello New World (MP3)