Tag Archives: Pyramid Scheme

Danny Brown Turns Shows Into Parties: A First Hand Experience

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By: Justin Cook

Hip-hop is a breathing experience, a way to live, and a way let go. This became all the more evident watching Danny Brown perform at the Pyramid Scheme, accompanied with his crew Bruiser Brigade. The night started like any other: people were slowly piling into the bar, the DJ was setting the mood for the remainder of the night and the audience was sinking into the hypnotism of revolving vinyls and melodies, sipping beer after beer, smoking blunt after blunt. We were feeling the vibe, ready to get turnt up.

The show started with the arrival of Chip$, fresh out of the pen, backed by the magician of mood, Skywlkr; every second the crowd was sinking deeper into the groove of back-beats and sub-bass Skywlkr bombarded us with. In the haze of smoke and dance, the other Bruisers covertly made their way on stage—TRPLBLK, Dopehead, and ZelooperZ—each one building on the hype of the previous entrance, culminating into an organic chant of the performers and audience yelling in unison “PUSSY! PUSSY! PUSSY!” It was at this moment when it struck me: this is not a concert, this is a fucking party.

Danny Brown strolled on stage and exploded into his first song, “The Purist” which is produced by Jealousy. The crowd was out of this fucking world turnt up and it made me think: I’ve been to my fair share of hip-hop shows, but the energy this night was on some other shit. Track after track, from “Molly Ringwald” to “Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine)” to “Witit,” everyone continued to get turnt up, despite being sweaty, fatigued and out of breath. The momentum kept building and had no intention of peaking or plateauing; it was just exponentially climbing to the cosmos. And Danny felt it, repeating between songs: “I am not a performer. You are not an audience. Let’s just get that shit straight. You see, we all family, just hanging out and having a great ass time, bumping some tunes we all enjoy.”

It truly was a party between an extended Michigan family. Danny passed a liter of Jameson around the crowd, calling it the turnt-up juice, making sure everyone was on the proper level. And of course, blunts were being passed between the stage and floor, making the entire venue one big smoke circle. Everyone pushed themselves past their own limits, and we all felt alive. Even at the end of the show, after Danny admitted to being tired, drunk and high, and only having enough energy for one more song, we made an agreement as a family, to stay turnt up for three more songs, which ended with “Kush Coma.” And after that promise was fulfilled, everyone rushed the stage, dancing, partying and loving life. There was no distinction between artist and audience, for this moment was just pure hip-hop.

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Show Review: Talib Kweli at The Pyramid Scheme

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By: Gus Navarro

For me there are two factors above all else that determine the talent of an MC. Their abilities in the studio are clearly important, but also their capacity to rock a live show. I have seen groups such as the Cool Kids–that while I love their music, didn’t have a great live show. I still enjoy the Cool Kids and listen to their music often, but would think twice about paying to see them again. To a certain extent, a Hip hop show is expected to be loud and you’re supposed to feel the thump of the bass in your chest. However, with the Cool Kids it was impossible to hear their lyrics, and difficult to figure out which song was being played. Recently, I saw Talib Kweli at the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To put it simply, the night was a bit wild.

Forty-five minutes after the second opening act, a female MC by the name of Mama Sol that is worth checking out, Kweli still hadn’t come on stage. Rumors started flying around that he was held up and would not be coming to perform at all. After a solid hour, there was still no sign of him. By this time, people were becoming agitated and some considered leaving. Then out of nowhere, his Dj showed up, and about five minutes later Kweli was on stage and the show began. Sporting sunglasses, a blue hoody and green hat with the word “ninjas” across the front, he proceeded to “rock the mic.” He performed new music from his upcoming album Prisoner of Conscious, and the classic material including “Get By,” “Move Somethin,” “Definition,” “Re: Definition” and “In This World.”

About halfway through the set he apologized to the crowd for being late and explained what had held him up. According to Kweli, he had three different flights cancelled out of New York due to the east coast blizzard. Because of this, he took a taxi down to Philadelphia, flew to Detroit, and then was driven from Detroit to Grand Rapids. I can only imagine how exhausted I would have been after such a travel fiasco. Despite this, Kweli came straight from the road to the stage and had the crowd rocking with him within his first song. He left the stage with huge cheers from the crowd that quickly became a chant for him to return. After about five minutes he came back and did about six more songs that included his verse from the Kanye West classic “Get Em High” and finished the encore with “I try” from his 2004 album The Beautiful Struggle. With that, the concert ended and my friends and I headed home, later than anticipated, but in awe of what we had just seen.

I realized on the way home that I had just witnessed Hip hop in its purest form. Talib Kweli was able to find energy to perform after a long day of travel because sharing stories with an audience is his craft. Beyond that, rapping is his vocation. He has reached the point in his career where his lyrics are not simply “memorized,” rather his words and lyrics are a part of who he is. Talib Kweli was able to share his artwork with crowds across the country because he understands that an important part Hip hop is engaging a crowd while spreading the messages of revolution, decolonization, love and progress. This is not a mainstream message, and will not be heard on the radio, which is what makes Kweli revolutionary in his own right.

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