Smoker's Club Tour with Joey Bada$$ at Epic, 10/27/13

Categories: Last Night
Zach McCormick

Smoker's Club Tour
with Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul, Pro Era, Statik Selektah, Chevy Woods, and The Underachievers
Epic, Minneapolis
Sunday, October 27, 2013

"The Smokers Club" title for this buzz-courting hip-hop package tour conjures up images of the kind of recreational indulgence that would make Snoopzilla himself blush. Instead, partially thanks to the very thorough work of Epic's security, things remained decidedly PG-13. Most of the smoke was either coming from backstage or the venue's high-powered fog machines, so what we were left with was the surprisingly cerebral one-two punch of headliners Joey Bada$$ and Ab Soul.

Opener Chevy Woods' would probably be the most likely of the the 3 main acts to get played at your local headshop. The Pittsburgh-raised rapper is probably best known for his role as Wiz Khalifa's sidekick in Taylor Gang, and covers a lot of similar ground. While both Woods and Khalifa have style and personality to spare, they also share the unfortunate tendency to insult their crowd's intelligence by dumbing down their lyrics so thoroughly.

One gets the sense that Chevy Woods took a look at his prospects as an underground rapper at one point, and then decided that he'd rather write fun but ultimately empty songs about getting his swag up in the club. Not only did the rapper fail to break any new lyrical ground whatsoever, but his keen delivery and apparent intelligence really made the bottom-of-the-barrel content seem insincere.

Bundled up like Randy in A Christmas Story, Top Dawg's resident weirdo Ab-Soul took the stage and immediately washed away the sour taste left by Woods. While some might argue that the L.A. native's concepts don't differ all that far from the drug use/dealing/lifestyle material of rappers like Chevy Woods, Soul-o, like every member of his rising crew, has a real knack for injecting a unique sensibility into well-treaded ground. With a flow that's so jerky it occasionally sounds off-rythym and a tendency to lace songs about excess with dark warnings of political uprising, Ab-Soul makes for an unsettling and subversive counterpoint to the hedonism of his teammate Schoolboy Q, who got frequent shoutouts during the set.

The pairing of Ab-Soul's incisive and militant call-to-arms of "Terrorist Threats" back to back with songs he's done with Q like "Druggy Wit Hoes Again" show the rapper's broad range, although I definitely prefer the former. The song's hardcore, gutter beat had the crowd jumping and moshing, especially when paired with Ab-Soul's own take on "m.A.A.d. City" which he dedicated to Kendrick and the rest of the Top Dawg set. While the MC was a little stony onstage, he turned the crowd up like a true professional and even tossed his fitted into the crowd during the walk-off of "Pineal Gland."

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