When DJ Kerosene took the stage at WOW Hall on Saturday night, he introduced himself then asked the crowd, “Eugene, are you ready for some real hip-hop tonight?” Only half the venue was full at that point, but those who arrived early were in for a treat.
Opening act Nick Grant took the stage after Kerosene energized the audience with a brief set. The up-and-coming rapper sported a black headband while wearing a Pedro Martinez Mets jersey. As he walked onstage, he grabbed the mic and threw its chord over his shoulder. Kerosene dropped the beat and Grant started rapping his song “Black Sinatra.”
After performing “Drug Lord Couture” — a song both lyrically and instrumentally reminiscent of ‘90s gangsta rap — Grant showed off his ability to flow over just about anything. He spit bars over the beat to Kanye West’s “Father Stretch My hand pt.1.” He then seamlessly transitioned to rapping over the beat to Kendrick Lamar’s “M.A.A.D. City.” This won over the crowd. He ended the remixes by rapping, “They don’t have to play my shit, tell the radio to suck my dick.”
The rest of Grant’s performance featured several tracks from his recently released EP “Return of the Cool.” Halfway through his set, Grant said, “This is by far one of the best cities I’ve performed at in a while.” Emphatically, the crowd responded with cheers.
Grant finished by showing off his freestyle abilities. He rapped several lines off the top of his head, then then thanked the crowd for its generosity.
An hour after Grant finished his set, the night’s headlining act Ab-Soul took the stage. His DJ and a fellow rapping MC joined him on stage. Wearing his signature sunglasses and holding a soon-to-be empty bottle of Hennessy to the sky, Ab-Soul asked the crowd “Y’all ready to turn the fuck up?”
The Los Angeles-based rapper implored the audience to chant the lyrics to his song “RAW” along with him. “RAW backwards on all these rappers. RAW backwards on all these rappers,” they chanted.
“Make some fucking noise if you love your mama,” Ab-Soul said
By the time Ab-Soul ended his first song, WOW Hall was bumping. A concentrated grouping of fans moshing near the front of the stage caused the side-stage speakers to shake. The sheer noise forced a security guard to dig through their pockets to find a pair of earplugs.
It was a rowdy night.
“You know how I know that God’s a girl?” Ab-Soul asked the audience just over halfway through his set. “Because life’s a bitch.” This queued his DJ to play the beat to Ab-Soul’s “Womanogomy.” The song is a dedication to all the women in his life.
“Make some fucking noise if you love your mama,” Ab-Soul said. “If you love your mama like I do, then you should love this song.” He continued to play his hit single “D.R.U.G.S.” The crowd sang every word with him.
Pressed for time, Ab-Soul informed the audience he would only be playing one more song and wouldn’t be doing an encore. He ended the night by playing “YMF,” the final track from his recently released album “Do What Thou Wilt.”
Thanking the crowd and saying goodnight, Ab-Soul left the stage after an hour. A short set and no encore usually make for a bad show, but Ab-Soul and Nick Grant impressed the audience with their technical rapping skills and energetic performances.
Check out the Emerald’s review of Whitney’s performance in Eugene here
Follow Zach Price on Twitter: @zach_price24