It was little testy last night at the Marquis. Things got off to a tense start with a heavy-handed security presence combined with a restlessness on the part of the crowd as they waited for the show to get going -- more than half the crowd was on hand before the DJ started spinning. When things got underway, the opening act, Corner Boy P, had such an awful flow that save if not for his collaborator, New Orleans native, Fiend, his set could have -- and probably should've -- just been skipped altogether.
The thing with shows like this -- part of a cross country jaunt dubbed the Smokers Tour and clearly geared toward the smoking crowd -- being held in a smoker-friendly town like Denver, is that folks naturally come ready to get their smoke on. Problem is, there's an indoor smoking-ban in this state. As such, folks were subjected to an intensive, invasive pat down at the door, which created an intense energy in an already highly charged space.
The tour DJ tamed the crowd a bit with several smokers' anthems like Rick James' "Mary Jane" and a few classics like Junior M.A.F.I.A's "Get Money." The party really got started when Smoke DZA took the stage admonishing security to "chill out and let my friends smoke," garnering cheers as he launched into his set with tracks from his early effort Substance Abuse.
The performance was very well received and DZA rocked with so much bass, the liquor bottles behind the bar could be heard rattling from the top shelf. He brought charm and charisma throughout his energetic set cutting the tension with hilarious call and response participation and in performing tracks from his latest mixtape George Kush Da Button. He really shined, though, when he kicked a freestyle over Kanye West's "Power," declaring "no one man should smoke all that sour," prompting the clouds of smoke to rise higher and higher.
When Big K.R.I.T. took the stage with DZA to perform their hit "The Secret," he did so almost without warning. Emerging from a door at the back of the stage, about two minutes of smoke preceded him before he exploded onto the stage and immediately started killing his lyrics. There was a good show of camaraderie from several hometown heroes; K.R.I.T. performed with Rockie, who got to stretch his vocals on the track "Loaded," and was flanked by several Denverites, who were either filming or milling about on stage mouthing the words to his songs.
The best thing about seeing K.R.I.T. live is seeing how truly happy he is to be on stage. During his set, he flailed his arms, held out the mike when he wanted the audience to recite the lyrics for him and then enthusiastically fist pumped and danced when he achieved the desired result.
Beyond his accent, it isn't hard to tell that K.R.I.T is from the south; he moved with the style and humble grace of the perfect southern gentleman the whole evening, balancing the NY grit and circumstance from DZA. This was definitely K.R.I.T's show, after he rocked and rolled and bounced from song to song, several rappers and DJs immediately headed for the exit, having seen their favorite of the night.
When Curren$y took the stage, he appeared high as a kite and in a really great mood as he launched right into "Pilot Talk." Standing under purple and red lights, he took a moment to declare that he had "smoked the best weed of his life in Denver." The stature of pint-sized rapper drew surprised reactions from some folks in the crowd. As far as lyrics go, however, the New Orleans bred, New York City-based MC could have been twenty feet tall as he proclaimed "King Kong ain't got shit on me."
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One of the most famous stories about Curren$y is that he ghostwrites (or has ghostwritten) for Lil Wayne. After seeing him in show, this is not a completely unfounded notion. He kicked several bars a capella and had the signature scratchy tone that he let trail into melodic mumbles by the end of the rhymes, just like Weezy.
The most notable thing about Spitta's performance was his audience integration. When he performed tracks like "Car Service," that he collaborated with Wiz Khalifa on, he let the crowd take over the first verse, which gave the track an almost gospel feel. Curren$y closed out the show by bringing out his fellow Smoker's Club tour mate K.R.I.T for the epic tune "Glass House," ending on a high and hip-hop unifying note.
Click through for Critic's Notebook.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I have a soft spot for the southern gentleman. Random Detail: There were many conflicting reports of Mr. Midas sightings as folks hoped he would perform his hit "Back On" with K.R.I.T. Several people said he's away on tour, but DJ Top Shelf said he was there, and I'm sure I saw him myself. By The Way: Rockie looked and sounded great amongst the pros.