DILATED PEOPLES with LITTLE BROTHER at the Phoenix, March 10. Tickets: $30. Attendance: 650. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Tthe fact that 9th wonder doesn't tour with Phonte and Big Pooh of North Carolina pure rap trio Little Brother still kinda rubs me the wrong way. I mean, would it have killed the producer to take some time off from Fruity Loops to play some records, yell into a mic and complete the Tribe-like trifecta at last week's Phoenix show?
Fortunately, Phonte, Pooh and the various randoms with them (rocking rhymes over a DAT, or possibly an iPod) can rip with the best of 'em. Throw in a deeply devoted audience crammed with all-agers who know every word and what you have is one banging show.
Over 9th's cut-up chords, the Brothers kept the momentum high with lots of body language, casually choreographed steps and, once, Phonte's wicked falsetto wail. Rocking now-classics from their first joint, The Listening, to hot shit from their criminally slept-on The Minstrel Show, LB rolled out the red carpet for L.A.'s underground heroes with style.
Thanks to the early evening showtime, Dilated Peoples didn't dally. DJ Babu dropped the anchor-heavy drums from their Premier joint Clockwork, and MCs Evidence and Rakaa rolled out to peaking cheers.
Within minutes, it was clear that Ev was sick; his usually smooth, cynical monotone sounded painfully scratchy. Still, remarkably, every word was assertive and audible, and his energy never waned. Oh, and when he did that brilliant "Don't worry if I write cheques..." line from their Alchemist-produced Back Again single, there was damn near a crowd-wide blackout.
Rakaa Iriscience had a few resounding moments himself, including his "George Bush got a couple more years that's a couple wars here and a couple wars there" bit, but his dancehall track failed to connect with the audience.
The crucial DJ Babu won a lot of screams with his ferocious interludes and live scratching of the samples from the songs' hooks.
In addition to performing every track fans wanted to hear, he included an awesome concert-only track about the rules of doing a good show, featuring some useful insights ("Always make friends with the soundman!") and dissing dumb rap crews ("Twenty people onstage... who the fuck is rhyming?")
No nonsense, no bullshit encores just one solid show that left some knuckleheads in the back yelling "Freestyle! Freestyle!" long after the lights came up.