On Friday night -- due to a surprising twist of circumstances and the possible intervention of supernatural forces -- instead of one of the great local bills or other intriguing cultural events that were going on, I ended up at the Marquis Theater for the Yo! Majesty show. Of course, like any red-blooded, rump-shaking American, I love the politically savvy electropunk bangers that Shunda K. and company pump out, but with some exciting Denver music going on that night, it wasn't exactly my first choice of live shows. However, I'm a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, and the flow took me to the Marquis. Not surprisingly, the highlight of the night turned out to be a local act -- L.I.F.E. Crew rapper (and Denver's best MC of 2008, according to Westword readers) Ichiban.
In stereotypical haughty hip-hop style, Yo! Majesty took the stage late (around midnight), padded its set with entertaining-but-superfluous onstage dancer interludes and wrapped up in under forty minutes. The songs sounded great and Shunda K.'s flow was impressive, but the set was disappointing. By the time the outfit showed up, the crowd had already thinned, and the energy of those that remained was flagging.
This stood in sharp contrast to Ichiban's set. After exchanging a heartfelt bro-hug with DJ Mike D -- who spun a vigorous warm-up set -- the Denver-based conscious MC humbly (and punctually) stepped to his MPC, queued up the first track, and then blazed into a generous set characterized by dazzling lyricism, head-bobbing beats and endearing humility. Sure, his stage show was a little sparse and his presence sometimes lacked dynamics, but the Japanese-Panamanian-American MC more than made up for this with his obvious passion, commitment and charisma. On top of that, the respect and appreciation he showed his audience by starting on time and playing a full set undoubtedly won Ichiban some new fans. The headliner could learn a thing or two from him.