By Maryam Azizli
Harbour Event Centre
March 22, 2019
Rap’s sober poet Vince Staples came together with JPEGMAFIA and Channel Tres to deliver a powerhouse performance.
As the first of two openers, Channel Tres flew with the eagles. Between dancefloor soundscapes and his rich-as-the-kid bass serving truths, the LA up-and-comer was a most natural addition to the lineup. Huge moves ahead.
When the long tresses and black nails crawled out from underneath the woodwork, you knew JPEGMAFIA was about to strike; the pit looked like Celebrity Deathmatch.
On the block, Peggy (read: MC Ride) is known as the resident noise rapper and provocateur, with cutthroat lyrics, delivery and inexhaustible wit. Much of that famed gusto was put on display that night as he thrashed on the floor, beating his windpipes to homemade beats and crucifying bigots with a shit-eating grin. Favourite line: “Fuck a Johnny Rotten, I want Lil B”. JPEGMAFIA is rap’s antichrist.
When Vince Staples emerged it was to universal delirium. The air went electric. There must be something thoroughly disarming about seeing a generational artist on a mall stage, but Staples’ modest bearing made it almost normative. Having boomed on the scene with his 2017 release, Big Fish Theory, the Long Beach rapper is one of the chiefly responsible for exciting experimentation and lyricism on the mainstream in recent years.
In short, he could part a crowd like the Red Sea if he wanted to. A Vince Staples show is not an exercise in power or clout, but one look to the mob chanting “I ain’t never ran from nothin’ but the police,” and you know what’s up. As much as every part of the show thrives on ambiguity, the plot remains unobstructed.
“Smile, You’re On Camera” is the no-B.S. tour of the year. Nihilists having fun, 10/10.
Harbour Event Centre, Vince Staples