How to begin this – well let me just say that, not only have I never (officially) been in Buffalo, but I’ve never been to a concert in the United States; I’ve only gone for sporting events and family visits (and some touristy things, but that’s about it). All of that change don May 6th, when my friend, Devon, and I decided to go to see a couple of rappers that we both have been listening to avidly: ScHoolboy Q & Ab-soul, whom are members of the Black Hippy crew (with Kendrick Lamar & Jay Rock) under label Top Dawg Entertainment & just recently signed with Interscope Records. I’ve already seen Kendrick Lamar in Toronto (June 2011) with Ab-Soul but ScHoolboy Q couldn’t make it out of the country, so that sucked, but it was still a dope performance. When I found out that he was performing 2 hours away in Buffalo for a STAGGERING $15 (plus extra charges), I sat at my computer, and I said “How can I really say no to this?” I sent it over to Devon, and well…the rest was history. Now let me share.
Soundlab is not a huge venue at all. It’s based in downtown Buffalo (which was surprisingly dead for a Saturday afternoon), and we really missed it the first time. It’s LITERALLY right off the highway, and there was (free) parking right next to the building – crazy. Chilled a bit, grabbed some food, and then a little after 7pm, we headed on in. It’s great to pay ahead of time for stuff because the concert was expected to sell-out, so I’m glad I jumped the gun and actually bought these tickets in advance (15 DOLLARS). The venue is pretty much a bar & a stage and some booths off to the side. It was really intimate & cozy. First thing I noticed was how low the stage was and pretty much how closed together everything was. The DJ was playing music right as we went inside, and everything was pretty much relaxed & laid back, but I knew that it would eventually get more exciting.
The DJs at the start (Mario Bee & Jay Bones from ToatsOrig sound crew), were taking turns mixing back and forth going from trap music to Araabmuzik tracks and even mashing together some electronic with hip hop. I’ve never heard stuff quite like it, but I was digging it. How they were mixing it up and getting the crowd amped was a different experience from Toronto, because what I’ve noticed is that, in Toronto, they seem like they don’t want to have fun. Most of the time, they just stand there, wait for the opening acts to finish what they have to do, then they get all hype for the main act that they came to see. It’s pretty sad, when you think about it, because you should support local talent no matter where you’re at, and before that night, the idea seemed foreign, because I’d never witnessed a lot of support from a home base, but that could change.
The first act was Sauce McKinley, who came out with his boy playing a bass guitar and another guy on the keyboards, Braden Blair. Live instrument performances while some flowing over the beat is a lost art. That’s truly the greatness of performances – to see the limits people would go, and to try new things while wowing an audience. What I was hearing sounded like a Lex Luger (producer of a lot of Trap music) style, but with a jazzy feel to it. It was kind of cool, to say the least because it was different, and different is better than just sticking with the norm.
Sauce was drunk & high, and he didn’t mind telling the audience that as he passed around a bottle of Vodka in the audience for people to take sips. That kind of interaction was new to me, I’ll tell you that much. I liked the fact that people were rocking with him and even participating when the keyboardist & the guitarist had their solos by clapping in rhythm. People were chanting, and overall just enjoying themselves and having a good time. That’s what it’s about. Toronto could learn a few things.
Next up was a crew called How Hood University, featuring one of the members that we met up with before the show, Lucky 7 (his name is really Lucky). Their set was good, because they kept it simple; stated who they were, what they were about, their site, their clothing line, their music, and then they got right into it. Their songs got the crowd into it and the way they were having fun on stage just made it better. They switched up the beats from the old west coast to east coast, and really kept it hyped for the duration of their set. Perfect way to get the crowd buzzing before the main acts came on stage.
Coming up to the stage next was Jae Skeese, and he was representing a group called ‘F1rst Class.’ He went right into his songs with no hesitation & I was really into it because the guy was spitting some dope lyrics. His flow was smooth and his energy that he brought to the stage was like as if he was a natural to it. He moved the crowd and from the jump, he was interactive with the crowd, and overall, his set was great. I’ll definitely be checking out his music and getting the word out about these cats from Buffalo, which brings me to the next performance.
The rest of the F1rst Class crew came out, and the energy was CRAZY! Not just one rapper, but the whole group as a whole was into it with each other, and people from the audience were going nuts; they knew every song they did, dancing, jumping up and down, and the same energy that was being put out from the group was being thrown right back. Shoot, I was even yelling out “F1RST CLASS” because I was so hyped.
Chase Dinero, G5-GI & Jae Skeese were the driving force to hyping up the crowd, and they certainly did not disappoint.
Honestly, I knew nothing about hip hop in Buffalo, and I do believe that it does get overlooked a lot because you have New York City in your own backyard, but as far as upstate New York goes, they have some talent, and they should definitely be given more recognition than they have right now. I’ll support them, no question about it.
After much wait, the main show started. Ab-Soul came out performing ‘Turn Me Up’ off of his ‘Longterm 2’ project (I have it on the Artist Profile I did of him), and in an instant the crowd went off. TDE is a group that has been generating buzz since Kendrick Lamar’s rise to fame, but the group as a WHOLE is great. All of them; I’ve never been disappointed with them, and they’re one of the better hip hop groups out there, like Slaughterhouse & Odd Future. Ab soul performed ‘Gone Insane’ & a couple of tracks from his most recent project, Control System. He’s been generating his own buzz, but he’s a dope MC overall, so that was expected. I’ve seen Soul in concert before (as I’ve stated before), so I got what I expected and then some. Coming into the crowd and partying it up with the people and even encouraging people to smoke up and get high. I don’t smoke, but shit, people didn’t waste any time lighting up.
Ab Soul is a wicked performer, and it’s a crime that his music is really slept on, but he’ll blossom out, but after his set, the man of the hour was about to hit the stage.
The first day that I started my blog, the first Artist Profile I wrote was ScHoolboy Q. At that particular time, I was listening to ‘Setbacks’ non-stop and I was really feeling what he was bringing to the table with his music. When ‘Habits & Contradictions’ came out, it further instilled why I was a fan of his music, and the fact that he couldn’t come to Toronto was very disappointing, so this concert was like a blessing, because Buffalo is really a random city to have a concert, but I’m not even mad.
He came out performing ‘Sacrilegious’ which is the first song from ‘HNC’ (which was emblazoned on the hoodie he was wearing), and I won’t lie, I was rapping every word while keeping up with taking pictures and videos (multitasking for the WIN). He performed cuts from Setbacks as well: Figg Get The Money, Kamikaze, iBETiGOTSUMWEED, and had an audience member come up to perform Druggys Wit Hoes. I watched concert footage of ScHoolboy Q beforehand, and all of it came to life. His energy is impeccable, much like Kendrick Lamar’s, and he always had the crowd amped up. He even talked to us. It was cool, he wasn’t like Hollywood or anything; he was just an artist reaching out to his fans.
He performed a good chunk of HNC: Brought out Ab-Soul to do Druggys Wit Hoes Again, he picked this kid’s girlfriend to rap ‘My Hatin Joint’ too (which was pretty funny), There He Go, Hands On The Wheel (minus A$AP Rocky), Oxy Music (my personal favourite), How We Feeling (2nd favourite), Gangster In Designer, Nightmare On Figg Street, niggaHs.already.know.davers.flow, his verse from A$AP Rocky’s ‘Brand New Guy’ (which was CRAZY HYPE), and he finished off the night by performing ‘Blessed,’ and leaving us with a message that anything can happen to you overnight, because that’s what happened to him.
He’s really humble, and appreciative of what he has and where he’s at, because if you’ve been following his music, you know that he came from a rough past, so this is him just giving back to people and instilling that you continue doing what you love, and that’s what I respect about artists that are appreciative of what they have and don’t go around being dicks about it. When you’re on the pedestal, use it appropriately. Overall, the concert was great from start to finish: opening acts to the headliner, and it was a great experience, but…that wasn’t all.
Afterwards, I went to get a T-shirt, which took some difficulty because all I had was Canadian money on me and they weren’t sure if they could take it, and I couldn’t exchange it at the bar. Devon was waiting by a table across from the bar, and we were just like “alright, so now what?” Next thing you know, she says to me, “you want to go inside?” By inside, she meant, to a room beside the stage where Q & Ab-Soul were chilling. Of course I was about that life, so we went in, and literally right there, they were just hanging out.
We hailed them up (translation – I gave them a dap/handshake), and sat across from ScHoolboy Q and just started talking to them. At first, it didn’t even seem like a regular thing, because understand that artists are regular people as well, but when you’ve been listening to their music for months on end and you’ve grown an attachment to their music, it’s cool to actually get the chance to meet them in person. We told them that we came from Toronto, and they were amazed by that, but also had some resentment because they got turned away at the border and had some “stuff” taken from them. The last thing that an artist would want is a crazy deranged fan all up in their grill, but they were really cool about it. Ab-Soul was just on the couch rolling up a blunt (fitting), and I just talked to him about his upcoming project and how everything was going from a music stand point; same thing for Q, but I wasn’t trying to throw out a bunch of questions and whatnot, because I wasn’t trying to interview the dude, just hang out. I didn’t get an autograph or a picture with either of them, but I took one of both of them with Devon, and I was fine with that, but Q was still humble and when Devon and I left, they were both humble, said they appreciated the support of their music and told us to get back safe. It was a great experience, and honestly, it didn’t hit us until we got in the car and were driving like “that really just happened?” Even as I’m writing this now, it’s like…wow that was really cool. Not a lot of people get those chances, but we did. It was awesome, and a crazy shout out to Lucky 7 for allowing that to happen.
Great experience and I can’t wait until Soundset in Minnesota (also going with Devon) to meet more people, network, and overall have a great time; it should be a great trip. Thanks for reading this, definitely check out How Hood University & F1rst Class’ music, but for now
That`s My Word & It STiXX