Monday, November 4, 2013

Joey Bada$$, Ab Soul, The Underachievers, and Chevy Woods - "Smoker's Club Tour" @ Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom - Denver, CO 11/1 (Review)

A Review By: Kenny Emmer
The Smoker's Club Tour hit Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver this weekend bringing along Taylor Gang's Chevy Woods, Brainfeeder's The Underachievers, TDE's Ab Soul and Joey Bada$$, with members of Pro Era. Despite myself not really participating in the "smoker's" aspect of the show, I found my eyes getting heavy, vision more vivid, and muscles more relaxed as the venue began to fill with smoke from every corner of the room. It felt like 4/20 in November. The sold out show was intimate, rowdy, and full of love from both the fans and the artists. Chevy Woods had the crowd bouncing and repping Taylor Gang as he paced back and forth across the stage spitting fire over supreme trap beats. A true hip-hop vibe could be felt throughout the venue as smoke rose from the crowd, 808's rumbled across the floor, and people sipped on beer as they raised their hands back and forth to the sound of the beat. Chevy Woods had quite a Wiz Khalifa feel to his music it's no wonder he was added to the Taylor Gang roster. However I was a bit more excited for The Underachievers to take the stage. Rappers Issa Dash and Ak created the Underachiever persona a few years back and one of my all time favorite producers, Flying Lotus, took notice of these guys and made it a priority to sign them to his label, Brainfeeder - a label full of experimental trip-hop producers and rappers alike. The Underachievers are all about Indigoism, a spiritual outlook on life in which one strives for knowledge, enlightenment, and inner peace. Lyrical themes involve meditation, psychedelics, astral projection, third eye, and many spiritual aspects of life without specifying a certain religion. Their music has always spoke to me so deeply I was beyond excited to see them perform. And they did not disappoint. The crowd response was massive as fans would rap along, request songs, and scream loudly when asked "where my Indigo's at?" If you haven't heard of these guys before I'd strongly recommend checking out their album "Indigoism" as it is a perfect embodiment of what these guys are all about.
Between artists I was also fortunate enough to meet Issa Gold and Ak in person. They are both very down to earth and easy to have a conversation with. We talked about Out-of-body experiences, lucid dreaming, and our love for Brainfeeder. I also mentioned the fact that music production was a passion of mine but I doubted it would ever go anywhere and I'll never forget what Issa told me about how if I have that little faith in myself then he felt as if he failed me as an artist. I argued that he inspired me and felt very blessed for the conversation we had.

Famed TDE and Black Hippy member Ab Soul came on stage next and in addition to his hit tracks from Control System as well as a couple from his older mixtapes like Long Term and Long Term 2, he even graced the fans with music from the rest of Black Hippy (Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Kendrick Lamar). And this just made the crowd even wilder than before. And like The Underachievers, Ab Soul's lyrics occasionally touch base on psychedelics and spiritualism such as his song "Pineal Gland", a track that glorifies the wonders of the chemical DMT, a chemical produced in the pineal gland in our brain while we dream and upon death, and how it can be enlightening to many people who use the substance outside of dreaming. The crowd chanted repeatedly with Ab Soul, "You have 3 eyes, 3 eyes, 3 eyes!" This show and most hip-hop music being made today constantly push my belief that there is a shift in consciousness happening in both music and society alike, as more and more people are beginning to think and believe purely independently. This show had such a huge effect on me and it wasn't even over yet. To close out the show, young Joey Bada$$ took the stage, with one of the biggest hip-hop producers in the game right now, Statik Selektah, providing DJ support. The venue was completely hot-boxed by this point, and the crowd was in high gear. Joey had nothing but love for CO and performed a legendary set, playing hits off his 1999 and Summer Knights mixtapes, as well as tracks from Pro Era's P.E.E.P the aPROcalypse tape. Joey also brought on stage Pro Era members Kirk Knight, CJ Fly, and others. CJ Fly performed a couple songs off his recent solo tape "Thee Way Eye See It" and Kirk Knight performed a bumping track off his upcoming solo work. Joey closed the show by inviting the whole lineup roster on stage to help perform one of Joey's biggest songs, "Survival Tactics." This was quite an emotional song to end on as it normally features Pro Era member Capital Steez, who passed away in December of 2012. Capital Steez was an insurmountable rapper who was unbelievably talented for his age, and was expected to do great things, as he was right by Joey and the rest of Pro Era's side throughout their rise to fame. The crowd knew every line, and was at their loudest during Steez' verse.
As they ended, they reached out to the crowd, shaking as many hands as they could reach, and hugging each other on stage. So much love could be felt and it was an amazing sight to see. In a genre that has a history of drama and violence, it was overwhelming to know that in this day and age, hiphop is reaching out for love, peace, an inner power. And this show was raw evidence of that. I felt truly blessed to be a part of it and I highly recommend to see for yourself if given the chance. Thanks for listening to my ramble, and stay third eye sharp :) Don't forget to check out Cervantes' Calendar for all their upcoming events!


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