Fans at the Pageant Saturday night easily got their money’s worth, as a robust local line-up shared the stage with one of Oakland, California’s finest, Del tha Funkee Homosapien. Local “graf” artists Pl@stic and Calc2 completed a fifteen-foot-long mural onstage during the show (which was impressive, especially given the amount of time they had), and the sound in the venue was excellent, with bass you could feel even in the back.
The Fu-Fops took the stage promptly at 8 p.m. (atypically punctual for a hip-hop show), with an often comedic style of rap and “potty-mouth R&B.” The crew had plenty of one-liners as they talked about smoking weed and fat girls. Next up was local veteran Jia Davis, who played a short set followed by the Treez, featuring Spark1duh? The performance by “Nitrobama” (who’s better known as Nite Owl) included live percussion, and showcased his insightful rhymes and thoughtful metaphors. American Idol finalist Nikko Smith joined him onstage for the song “For the Children” off last year’s Now You Can Boo Me. Nitro’s set played well, with a soulful and mature tone. 40 ‘til 5 closed out the local portion of the show with a much more playful style of rap; its set, while good, would have been better placed after the Treez performance, to smooth out the transitions from one act to the next.
Del the Funky Homosapien, "Workin' It":
When the Hieroglyphics – an Oakland hip-hop collective founded by Del -- came onstage, they opened up with Bukue One doing kickflips and the like while skateboarding across the stage, and DJ Zac Hendrix on the turntables. Bukue’s positive vibe and reggae- inspired hip-hop went over well, and got the dance floor crowded in no time. The dreadlocked emcee earned tons of crowd reaction while he spit over industry beats like Mike Jones’ “Still Tippin’” and Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock.”
Bukue then gave way to the headliner, Del, who was joined by emcee A-Plus from Souls of Mischief. Del gave the audience what they came for, including a couple of his classics from the “golden era” of rap (such as “Mistadobalina” and “Dr. Bombay”). Del took a break to give A-Plus the spotlight for a moment, and he rocked a solo joint featuring the Hieroglyphics’ signature sound.
Del proceeded to perform work from throughout his fifteen-plus-year career (i.e., “Catch a Bad One”) and ended his set with the classic “Clint Eastwood” (his vocal collaboration with Gorillaz). At one point in the show, Del assured the crowd that he doesn’t hate on radio rap. The crowd was with him when he mentioned Kanye and 50 Cent, but started booing as soon as he mentioned Soulja Boy. Del clarified by saying “Don’t get me wrong -- he’s weak, but I don’t hate.”
-- Calvin Cox