I am so close to hitting 300 shows this year that I can taste it. At this point it’s all hands on deck. I have to hit 300. I just have to. Yes, I know that number is ridiculous and I know that even hitting 100 shows seems excessive but I told myself that this is the year I hit 300 and I will make it happen. That’s how I found myself at The Armory on Saturday night. Sure, there were other shows in town but those shows were bands I had seen before and I was in the mood for something new and different. That’s exactly what I got from the ScHoolboy Q show.
The crowd was clearly rowdy. Being an all ages show brought out a whole new element of excitement and energy to the giant venue. I definitely felt a little out of place as soon as I passed through security and into the venue but felt a sense of calm come over me when I got my normal spot against the railing near the bar. Although this was just another show for me, it was clearly an exciting night out for majority of the rest of the audience and I loved the feeling of just taking that all in. The scattered conversations turned into roars of applause as the house lights went down and a group of the DJ’s from the local GO95.3 radio station took the stage to introduce the first act.
I had never heard of Nimic Revenue before but as soon as the DJ’s introduced her as being from the Twin Cities and being signed to Def Jam records I was intrigued. Nimic blasted onto the stage with a quick no-holds-barred set. She instantly got the already excited crowd riled up a little bit more with her quick tongued and powerful raps paired with her unique beats. She stood out on this line-up not just because of her being the sole female, but because of the power she had behind the microphone and the endless amount of energy she seemed to have as she ran from side to side of the stage. I’m not sure how Nimic flew under my radar for so long but she absolutely gained my attention and my love last night.
A familiar face took the stage next. I’ve seen Cashinova multiple times now and am never disappointed with his performance. Last night was no different. Much like Nimic Revenue, Cashinova’s set was super quick (like twenty minutes and less quick) but he definitely packed a punch and got his name out to a bunch of people who had probably never heard of him before. Cashinova is one of those rappers that blends into the Twin Cities rap scene so easily but also stands out because of his own vibe and his own point of view of things. His raps are easy to listen to and have that Minnesota nice vibe about them that all rappers up here seem to have but he has this unspoken edge about him that makes him absolutely irresistible. Local rapper Prof (who I struggle to call solely local anymore as he has really shot up in fame recently) has really helped Cashinova through the years as a mentor and a friend so it was not a huge surprise when Prof joined Cashinova on stage for the last track. It was the perfect exclamation point to an already perfect set.
Chicago-bred Kembe X took the stage next and kept the energy high throughout his short set. Unlike the previous two acts, it was clear that some in the audience were excited to see Kembe X and as soon as he started performing, I understood why. There is a raw honesty to Kembe’s vibe and his music. He really came off as just that friend you had in high school who had a talent and has been grinding since day one to turn that talent into a job. I think it’s easy to say that Kembe X has done just that. Every set last night packed a punch but Kembe X’s had me so excited that I’ve spent most of this morning digging into his discography trying to take it all in.
NAV was the final opening act and clearly a favorite of the young crowd. There seems to be some controversy about this man in the music world and, after seeing him live, I kind of get it. He has a harsh edge to his raps and is clearly the type of performer that doesn’t care if you love or hate what he’s doing. Although this can cause controversy and turn a lot of people off, it made me a fan of his. I like a performer that stays true to themselves and, no matter how cocky or how much bad press they get, never changes and I get that vibe from NAV. NAV’s set was lengthier than the previous sets but it felt like it still just flew by in the blink of an eye. Whether was was because of the anticipation in the air for the headliner or because his set was full of fast-paced songs doesn’t really matter. All that matters is it seemed like everyone around me was having the time of their lives throughout his set.
Closing out the packed show was ScHoolboy Q from Los Angeles. The excitement in the room as he took the stage was palpable and never faltered throughout his over twenty song set. Joined on stage with who I can only assume to be his entourage/ bodyguards with paper bags on their heads (a theme of his music videos and imagery), ScHoolboy Q- born Quincy Hanly- erupted onto the stage and never seemed to stop. Although I was one of the few people in the place that couldn’t sing along to every song like my life depended on it, the fact that I could feel those around me do just that told me that this man is more than just another rapper who would fall to the wayside in just a couple of years. His rapping style seemed to switch with every single song. From aggressive to soulful and from fast to slow in the blink of an eye, the amount of talent this man has clearly has no boundaries and it kept the show feeling fresh.
I may have walked into Saturday night’s show just to hit my 300 shows for the night but I walked away with a whole new appreciation for some of the rappers out there these days. Not my cup of tea when it comes to the music but absolutely my cup of tea when it came to the energy, I’m really glad I picked this show to spend my Saturday night at.