Hip Hop Was In The Building Last Night With Big K.R.I.T. And Co. At The Varsity.


It was an uncharacteristically quiet night at the Varsity Theater Friday night. I know that sounds somewhat like an oxymoron, a concert venue and quiet are not usually a pair. After the whole fiasco that was parking in Dinky on a Friday evening it was clear that while its part of the city was overflowing tonight, the Varsity was not. The downright tiny gathering of fans to the front of the stage had my mind spinning, after all Big K.R.I.T. was in town, where was everyone else? 

It’s common practice for concert goers to trickle in as the headliner gets closer and closer to going on. While this did happen last night, I can’t help but feel like I’ve ever been to a show we’re there was so much space between the people on the floor. It was a bit distressing as a huge K.R.I.T. fan and brought up a lot or thoughts about hip hop as a whole. The landscape of the genre changes rapidly and I began to wonder if that was the reasoning for the low turn out. Was someone else in town, pulling potential concert goers and their attention elsewhere? While I’m sure there were other concerts going on last night, I’m also pretty sure there wasn’t too much else hip hop going on unless it flew completely 100% under my radar. That’s just one kid from the suburbs take on the whole situation, but I digress. 

Now don’t misunderstand my words. People were there and people did have fun, I had an absolute blast, but the turn out was not what I had expected. Domani Harris was first to perform and his brief yet enjoyable set had quite an intimate vibe. The small crowd allowed Domani to pretty much interact one on one with those in the crowd, it felt personal, it felt real. The first on stage, Domani set a precedent for the evening that would ring true as each of the next two acts hit the stage and that precedent was passion. He was a passionate and capable emcee who was using his time to speak his truths and share his ideas with those who came to watch him perform. His conviction in his words was unmistakable as he got more comfortable on stage. At times it felt like he was preaching rather than entertaining and the crowd there responded really well to his efforts. 

While it felt like Domani was a man of conviction, the next artist on stage Rapsody felt like the entire church choir and then some. The congregation was on there feet and officially moving by the time she was started her second track. By this time in the evening, about 8:30pm, the floor had improved growing from a small gathering in front of the stage to maybe half full. Rapsody was in effect and  she made sure everyone was aware. Her set again was highly personal and it felt like she was really trying to connect with the audience. She had so much to say and wanted to make sure that those watching were ready to receive her message. Spending a good amount of the early and late set rapping to individuals in the crowd Rapsody transformed those parts of the show into something almost meditative. While she spent a lot of time one on one with members of the front row, she made sure to address the audience as a whole letting them know that were anybody to ask about Rapsody, that she wasn’t just a ‘female rapper’ that she was a Beast. 

Rapsody is an emcee of the purest form. Her enthusiasm was contagious and her stage presence was powerful. Her set ended with her addressing the men in the crowd. The song, based on ‘Keep ya Head Up’ by Tupac sampled and interpolated the following lines from the first verse:

“And since we all came from a woman

Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman

I wonder why we take from our women

Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?

I think it’s time to kill for our women

Time to heal our women, be real to our women”

A song like this was never blunt and nether was Rapsody. Her set was pointed and she had a group of ideas and thoughts that she wanted to share and in that she was a success. During set change she spent the time in the pit speaking one on one with those who she had engaged from on the stage. While I wasn’t close enough to hear the exchanges I’m sure it was part hellos and thank yous and partly a little affirmation that the things she spoke had not gone unlistened to. One more thing I’d like to point out is that this tour was amazing at sticking to the schedule it had set out.  Often times at hip hop shows artists can treat set times as light suggestions, but this one operated as a well oiled machine. 

K.R.I.T. was scheduled to start at 9:15 and that’s exactly when he exploded onto the stage. The uncovering of the backdrop had leveled up the excitement of those in attendance and they were ready to pop by the time the lights dimmed. Opening with the first track off his latest effort aptly titled ‘KRIT Here’ there was no mistaking that bass, Krizzle was in the building. It has been some years since I was able to catch K.R.I.T. live so it was nothing short of exciting watching him play songs I had until then only heard through my headphones. The throwback tracks sprinkled in the middle of the set  were also a lot of fun. Those tracks are so tied in with nostalgia for me that I was cheesin from cheek to cheek. It was a time when I was just getting into Hip Hop as a whole and there was so much quality output to explore. K.R.I.T. was one of the first artists that really clicked with me. Watching him  bound from one side of the stage to the other was just another reinforcement of the shared passion that all the artists shared last night. There’s something to be said about an artist who can rock a crowd no mater the size, giving it 110% regardless of if you’re playing for 250 people or 250,000 people. The people who chose to attend last nights concert were there because they connected to the music and in a way, to K.R.I.T. himself. The one lyric of his I have not been able to shake years after I first heard it was my mantra last night and in my opinion perfectly epitomizes the audience at last nights show.

“If it don’t touch my soul, then I can’t listen to it.”