Following a lead of a Converse music series in the summer of 2012 in London, the sneaker giant decided to lay eyes on the City by the Bay for a summer music series this week quite unlike your usual forces. Leading up to a grand opening of the Converse San Francisco retail store at the end of June, music fans and professionals were invited to a guestlist-only series featuring carefully curated nights, with only the best in indie, rap, dance, rock, and punk/hardcore showcased.
For the most part, night 2, which featured the likes of Deltron 3030, Juicy J, Blackalicious, Angel Haze, and 100s, the acts only stacked on top of each other in caliber and quality. Dubbed the Prince of Pimp Rap, Berkeley's 100s opened the show with slick anecdotes and light banter about the perfection of his hair. He and fellow breaking artist Angel Haze proved that they were worthy of being on a bill with such luminaries like Blackalicious. It was clear the audience was wild about the 21-year-old Haze's spits, as woops and hollers followed her layered breaks and infectious beats, impressing not only the front row but many others who whispered excitedly about finding her later online to listen to. Showing both her humility and extreme talent on stage concurrently – she delved into a story profiling her stint being homeless as late as last year – Haze was the perfect segue way to Sacramento's Blackalicious, world-renowned for their complex and multisyllabic rhymes. The Gift of Gab wasted no time being front and center, words rolling off his tongue so fast it would have been easy to crown a winner in tongue twisters had the need came up. Del The Funky Homosapien and Lateef The Truthspeaker make special cameos, ending the Blackalicious set on an endorphin rush.
This made Juicy J's set nearly unbearable following the sheer professionalism and stature of the first three acts. It was a “bitch this,” “bitch that,” “let's smoke a shit ton of weed and fuck pussy for hours” sort of rhyme set that became very off-putting, very fast. There's something to be said about niche rap that pokes fun at marijuana use (Afroman) or women's butts (Juvenile) or even violence and societal injustice (Odd Future) that can turn the former issues into something worth listening to, or at least danceable. But in the case of Juicy, it just fell flat. Coupled with the fact he was flanked by two giant security guards with matching V necks, and was also accompanied by a dude whose only function was to hand towels to Juicy and pour champagne into paper cups for twerking girls, we counted down the minutes until the atrocity could no longer be heard.
Deltron 3030, however, brought the crowd back up to speed with a full band, and its three triumphants – Del, Dan The Automator, and Kid Koala – proved that though they have each worked on numerous projects throughout the years, they still can return home and kick it with the bros like nothing's changed. Deltron 3030 opened with the classic “3030” and worked through a number of new tracks, which are anticipated to be on a new full length at the end of year's time. The scratching, the bass, the warble in Del's voice – it has only bred more strength into a group whose break out of hiatus is highly being watched. Ending with a cover of Gorillaz's 'Clint Eastwood,' of which Del did vocals for originally alongside Blur's Damon Albarn, it will be phenomenal to see what Deltron 3030 can pull off when they play June 30 at San Francisco's Stern Grove Festival, complete with a full orchestra.
Many sweaty and champagne-dusted dudes rolled out of Slim's at the end of the night, happy to have seen Deltron's first San Francisco appearance in many, many years. It will be hard to top for tomorrow's Hot Chip show; the bar is set pretty damn high.