I’m admittedly not a huge fan of gangster rap. It doesn’t often find its way onto my iTunes rotation, and there aren’t many situations where I find I need hardcore hip-hop as my background music. Hip-hop live shows are also touch and go for me. The bad ones are usually really, really bad- canned tracks, listless emcees. However, there is nothing like a really good hip-hop show--the crowd, the energy, the all-out chaos that ensues. And last Friday’s Swollen Members show was the best hip-hop show I’ve seen in years.
These cats killed it. Swollen has been on the scene for over a decade and their experience was obvious. These Canadian veterans know exactly how to put on a show and they brought their best to the Domino Room. Playing to a packed house, Mad, Prevail and Rob cycled through all the old-school stuff everyone was waiting for as well as a bunch of new tracks that brought down the house. When their new single, "Warrior," started up, the crowd went insane. Their new album, Armed to the Teeth, is solid, but nothing compares to hearing the live show.
The highlight of the night was when Mad asked the crowd, “Do you want to hear Prevail freestyle?” Then Prevail, the stoic, father figure of the group, went nuts on the mike, spitting sick rhymes for minutes on end. After the show, when the smoke cleared, I realized that these kings of the underground hip-hop scene are straight-up pros. Consider me a fan.