It was like déjà vu all over again last night at the Gramophone. For the second time in as many months the best and brightest hip-hoppers in the Lou invaded the chic club on Manchester and threw down some stellar beats, rhymes and energy.
Though it seems like it’s only been a minute since the same show went down, last night’s event was notable for the fact that several acts had polished their performances, taking the stage with a much more commanding presence. Family Affair were particularly impressive in this regard, as the twins left no corner of the stage untouched and showed oomph that was occasionally lacking in their act just a month ago.
Rapper/producer Black Spade was the master of ceremonies on the night, and he loomed behind a keyboard on stage throughout each set. In addition to introducing each artist with an impromptu soul song, beat or chant, he performed his own numbers as interludes, with many of the performers joining him on stage as featured guests. The mini-St. Louis history lesson of “Good Crazy,” featuring Tef Poe was the highlight here.
(Tef Poe and Spade)
Rockwell Knuckles was his usual possessed self on stage, his face alternating between sinister glares and goofy grins as he blew through a crisp 20 minutes of material. He debuted a handful of new songs from his forthcoming Black Spade-produced LP tentatively titled No Sympathy For the Devil, including a track that ended in a catchy refrain of “One, two, three, the Devil’s after me.” (Rockwell Knuckles)
Filling out the night, headliner Gotta Be Karim took the stage flanked by Vandalzym and knocked out 30 minutes of material from both artist’s catalogues. Karim mentioned he has a new EP in the works titled Tread More Water before his full-length debut Bullets and Books drops later this year.