El-P and Killer Mike at Varsity Theater, 7/19/13

Categories: Last Night
Anna Gulbrandsen
El-P and Killer Mike
with Despot and Kool A.D.
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
Friday, July 19, 2013

We of the millennial generation grew up in the golden era of the Dynamic Duo. On wax and on the basketball court, players and artists that could have been superstars in their own right formed partnerships greater than the sum of their own talents. Jordan and Pippen, Eric B and Rakim, Shaq and Kobe, Mos and Kweli, Duncan and Robinson, Salt-N-Pepa. The list goes on. In the age of the iTunes single, true collaboration is scarce, replaced by look-at-me features assembled cross-country through emails and Pro-Tools magic.

That's probably why the recent combination of Atlanta-bred Killer Mike and Brooklyn's own El-P feels so refreshing, and yet so familiar. Despite the cutting-edge production on their new mixtape Run the Jewels, the way Killer and El Producto play off of one another on the mic is pure throwback. They're the John Stockton and Karl Malone of underground rap, and their tag team live show Friday night was the definition of "Dynamic."

See Also:
Slideshow: El-P & Killer Mike at Varsity Theater

Anna Gulbrandsen

Show opener and Bay-Area native Kool A.D. certainly seemed a little lonely without his old partner up there. Best know for his work with the avant-rap group Das Racist, which also featured the inspired microphone talents of Queens-spitter Heems, Kool A.D. has been striking out on his own in the wake of the group's 2012 breakup. While his hazy, free-associative verses are better suited for blunted headphones-examination than rocking large stage, A.D. is armed with his own unique charisma and a wickedly dry sense of humor that made for an entertaining performance. Starting the show by proclaiming himself "probably the best rapper of all time...give or take..." the slothlike MC continued to pepper his bars with hilarious asides like "I feel like Macklemore right now" while surveying the undeniably pasty crowd. Finishing his set with a 10-minute long song that showed remarkable endurance, Kool A.D. and his producer/DJ Amaze 88 left the stage victorious despite a few skeptic hecklers.

Second act Despot's name isn't probably too familiar to many midwesterners. Despite his 10-plus years in the east coast rap game, the Flushing-based MC has yet to release an official full length album. Sacrificing time in the booth for time spent playing and organizing grassroots shows in his home city, Despot's confident and aggressive rapping was a definite shift from the mellow verses of his offstage friend Kool A.D. Connected to the headliners through his time at Def Jux records, the MC shares a similar musical palate but tends towards grimier, more street-level subject mater. Between songs, the diminutive rapper was a bit more left-field, stringing together monotone bits about modern dance and even inviting El-P and A.D. back up to the stage for an aerobic synchronized dance routine.

Anna Gulbrandsen

Killer Mike wasn't involved in the aerobics. Killer Mike has such a fearsome delivery that he doesn't even really need to move. Standing at a monolithic six foot something and built like an NFL lineman, the Killer is a master of the hardcore ATL style, nimbly switching between a swaggering baritone and a growling bellow that command attention whenever he touches the microphone. Ringing in the headliners with the massive, El-P produced "Big Beast," the MC mugged like a reigning heavyweight while the songs piercing uptemo trap beat caused a surge in the crowd's front rows.

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digitalprotocol topcommenter

the only salient feature of this "show" was the girl in wolf pants...anyone see dat?

k2yeb topcommenter

I enjoyed the show. But I dont think any concert I have gone to is 1,000 times that of another show. That makes no sense at all. You probably go to shows looking for flaws. The sound wasn't good. Everyone I saw was having a good time. Other than the "fans" below.

Music is music. Its art. In the eye of the beholder. You are stating preference. Not fact (outside of sound). Who the hell goes to El-P and Mystikal.

Most rap shows are largely white audiences. Good god these posts are idiotic. Same audience as last show. You thought they wouldn't mention Trayvon? I would probably go back to your Myth shows.

digitalprotocol topcommenter

terrible report on the show

i was there, it totally sucked. the sound was HORRIBLE and the rapping was suspect

why not tell it how it is instead of acting like this shit was incredible. it was far from that

digitalprotocol topcommenter

@k2yeb the show was pretty bad

why would i go around looking for flaws - the flaws were pretty glaring at the show. 

el-p needs to stay in the studio and keep his trap shut....shit was wack 

i would know, i am rap expert

that was one of the shittiest rap shows ive ever seen

the best part is when killer mike was knocking governments world wide and i shouted "ANARCHY" as loud as i could, nobody even cared or realized that is what mike was reffering to

the crowd was so dumb and were there to be trendy as opposed to enjoying the music known as RAP

it sucked - we put it in the air and left 


@digitalprotocol Not gonna argue with you about the sound, The Varsity's system is gonna need a few tweaks before it can handle the amount of bass that these kind of shows put out, and the microphone issues really got in the way sometimes. Still, it was one of my favorite shows of the year so far. Different strokes?

digitalprotocol topcommenter

@ZeeMickCee last week, Mystikal was 100x better

spaceghostpurrp 1000x better

redman x750 times better

the sound was beyond terrible, stupid political messages to all white crowd - suspect crowd

these fools along way from being rap stars, sure the album R.A.P. music was excellent.

El-P is horrid rapper, experimental bullshit.

my friends and i hated it

not G enuff

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