Drones Over Cleveland: El-P at the Grog Shop
Energy, anticipation and especially the temperature were high Saturday night for the one of the heaviest hip-hop lineups to take stage at the Grog Shop, and El-P and Killer Mike, with the aid of Despot and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, held back nothing at their Cleveland stop of their Into The Wild Tour.
Despot and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire set the night off right, getting the already sweaty crowd moving right, aerobics routines included.
But once Killer Mike took the stage, the night shifted into all-out frenzy mode, with “Gangland” going absolutely nuts while the “Big Beast” cranked through the in-your-face rhymes of R.A.P. Music, his new album produced by El-P.
If you’ve been sleeping under a rock and haven’t heard Mike’s epic and timely throwback to the political rap era (think N.W.A. and Public Enemy) wake the hell up and prepare your head for a mind-blowing experience. Killer Mike is at the top of his game right now, and El-P’s future beats add a knockout punch to every rhyme.
The 9-year veteran didn’t just stick to the new shit though and busted out plenty of classics, along with crowd sing-a-longs including his verse from Outkast’s “The Whole World” and the weed anthem “Kryptonite.” And it didn’t take much for Mike to get “Gangland,” Mike’s term for the people going nuts in the front row, to swarm the stage for an all-out party.
And then came El-P, making his long, long-awaited return. The crowd, bracing itself to witness the man in action, fed off the smorgasbord of energy that filled the house before his appearance.
If the El-Producto’s long career span of masterpiece lyrics and production hadn’t already secured El as a legend outside the mainstream, the hype beyond Cancer for Cure, his latest smasher, certainly has.
Beer, sweat and water intensified the humidity and mood as El-P blazed through track after track of Cancer for Cure. His rapid delivery and backing band were spot on, and his grin made it apparent he’s having the time of his life , even before he acknowledged that the Into The Wild Tour has been his craziest yet.
About three-quarters way through the set, a couple fans began to question if El-P would actually bust out anything other than his new shit. Minutes later, El-P’s actions stomped out all doubt as he took them further back in time beginning the journey with a remixed version of I’ll Sleep When Your Dead‘s “Everything Must Go,” and fan favorites “Deep Space 9mm,” Company Flow’s “Vital Nerve,” and a refreshing cover of “Can I Kick It.”
With ears ringing and swollen feet, Clevelanders left the Grog in full astonishment from the rare showing of brilliant and true hip-hop Saturday. It’s good to know Cleveland can show some real love for real hip-hop amidst all the bullshit saturating radio’s these days.
Photos by Philip Botta and Kyle McDonald