Concert Reviews

Ten best hip hop shows of 2011 in Denver

There were so many hip-hop shows and concerts this year, it was hard to keep count. The shows of note, though, were bangers and crowd pleasers and showcased dynamic artistry. With so many epic moments (?uestLove and Jazzy Jeff at Beta, anyone?), it was hard to narrow it down, but we've compiled a list of the top ten best hip-hop concerts of the year. From Waka Flocka Flame at Club Arriba to Raekwon at the Summit Music Hall, hip-hop was all over the place this year, and it won't stop, cause it can't stop!

10: De La Soul at Cervantes' De La Soul tore the roof off of Cervantes for a journey through their impeccable catalogue. Energetic, poised, and precise, De La pleased the crowd with classics like, "Pot Holes In My Lawn" "Ego Trippin," and "Shopping Bags." Not to mention a rousing performance from Dres of Black Sheep to open, and a set of all new music from Foodchain. It was robust, rowdy and live as hell.

9. Method Man/KRIT/Curren$y at the Ogden* Method Man never loses his luster, penchant for crowd surfing, or his rhyme slaying ability. That gruff voice, made even more rough by the weed smoke he ingested with glee on stage, ricochet around the Ogden Theatre and wrapped around classic Wu-tang joints, and Meth's own hits. Beyond the headliner, it was KRIT who also stole the show with his southern charm and enthusiastic performance.

8. Raekwon at Summit Music Hall Raekwon, the Chef made several appearances in Denver this year but his packed show at Summit Music Hall in May was his best performance. Getting intimate with the audience by talking about the Wu-tang Clan and leading an a capella version of, "Incarcerated Scarfaces" Raekwon's performance stamina through the roof.

7. ?uestlove/DJ Jazzy Jeff at Beta The two musical phenoms came together for an ad-lib style music set. Jazzy Jeff rocked the tables and ?uestlove provided live drumming and instrumentation for a crowd pleasing performance of hip-hop classics. This March show at Beta was the second time the two performed this style set for the fans and their selection was rare and rhythmic.

6. Waka Flocka Flame at Club Arriba Mr. Flame brought his wall-thumping bass and shaking dreadlocks to Club Arriba in May for a show that stands out as one of the most impressive. The building was packed and full of folks screaming the Waka encouraged blood gang salutation, "suwoop!" Mr. Flame, for his part gave his all and then some for chaotic performances of, "No Hands," "O Let's Do It," and others from his high strung southern catalogue.

* An earlier version of this piece indicated Freddie Gibbs was on the Curren$y/Method Man/Big K.R.I.T. bill at the Ogden; he was not.

5. J.Cole at the Ogden Theatre J.Cole is no stranger to sold-out Colorado crowds and for his go around at the Ogden Theatre the new material from the then as yet released, Cole World: Sideline Story went over with ease on the Denver crowd. Cole, despite wearing a cast on his ankle was wildly energetic, charming with his verses, and generous with his set time -- he played for well over an hour -- making for one of the more remarkable shows.

4. Young Jeezy at the Ogden Theatre After making an agitated crowd wait for well over an hour to be graced with his presence, Jeezy emerged wearing all black and as soon as he opened his mouth, ("Denver, what the fuck is good?!") all was forgiven. He rocked a good bit of tracks from his new album, TM103 ("The Real is Back") and more than a few joints from his earlier albums, notably, "Soul Survivor," and "Put On."

3. Odd Future at the Ogden Theatre Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All brought the most riotous show of the year to The Ogden Theatre. Long before the consortium came out, intoxicated folks were passing out and jumping from the second floor balcony. By the time the crew made their way on stage it was pandemonium. OFWGKTA clamored through their material and facilitated an extraordinary show of mayhem.

2. Lil Wayne at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre Weezy F. Baby gave a thrilling and organized performance at Comfort Dental Amphitheater that showcased his growth (and sobriety) as an artist. With an impressive band and flashing lights, Lil Wayne gave a stimulating performance chock full of hilarious anecdotes, along with pretty much all of his hits. An overzealous fan got tackled at the end, to boot!

1. DJ Premier at City Hall When DJ Premier was announced as the headliner for Shoe Shine 7.0, the city collectively erupted. He's a legend, and quite possibly one of the most important figures in hip-hop. Preemo stepped onto the stage as a giant and when he dropped, "Nas is Like," everyone in the place almost blacked out with pleasure and hip-hop euphoria.

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Ru Johnson
Contact: Ru Johnson