I booked this show way back in like January, for an April 21st date. Originally I wanted to it with a live band, preferably The Easy, as we’ve shared a few bills before, and me and the lead vocalist Chris are pretty cool (plus they are dope as fuck). Well it seems on my weekend some film company had rented out Spanish Moon for a movie shoot. My man Aaron (runs the joint) hit me asking me can I change the date. No sweat, because the 22nd turned into me being in Miami, so it worked out. Still bummed that I couldn’t play with a live band, but hey, my overheard was that much lower, so I wasn’t trippin.
For those who don’t know, Spanish Moon is my home stage. I’ve caught shows there with everyone from Mobb Deep to Blue & Exile, to Ghostface Killah, to Brother Ali & Fashawn there. I’ve even opened for MegaRan, Slum Village, & Run The Jewels there. It’s hallowed ground as it pertains to Baton Rouge true school/underground Hip-Hop to me, and I take that shit seriously. So when I put on “Hip-Hop Is Alive” concerts there, I pick emcees who I think are nice as fuck, and have a decent following. This ain’t like Fade The Flow where rookies can come cut they teeth, because I think it’s disrespectful for me to have some weak ass emcees on the same stage Aceyalone or The Hieroglyphics have played. But I’m a Hip-Hop nerd like that…
This particular lineup consists of my man Protégé who is from Memphis, but paid his dues in the south Florida scene. Li’l Boxx ,who has been around on the street/ratchet/jigg side for a minute, but has never really been exposed to the Hip-Hop side of things. I wanted him to come over here, because even tho he never did this type of show before, he belongs because he can rap his ass off. Nilly was on the bill, NoLa born, Katrina took him to Dallas, recent LSU grad. Prolly my fave rapper in the city right now. And I had to get my OG’s, the architects of the BR underground scene, The Ill Relatives to come out with the resident FTFS DJ/my barber Sole Lab BR on the tables.
I say all this to set the scene…
First off, April was a terrible month for me, so my focus never was 100% of promoting this show. I also knew Jazz Fest was going on in NoLa; the Pandas had a couple of other shows going on the same time as mine. So I didn’t expect a huge crowd, I actually got exactly what I expected in terms of turnout. First act goes up at 11 PM, it’s Protégé. Pro is possibly the hungriest rapper I know he reminds me of me, and he’s nice as fuck. He drove wild hours to do the show, and he did his thing. My crowd loved him, as he made an extremely good impression. I changed clothes during his set (Polo down on these OBAN’s), and came back in time to ask him to kick an acapella to made sure he got his bars off. And he did.
Next was Li’l Boxx. Watching Boxx from a far, I knew he hadn’t had much experience not rapping over his vocals. I let it be known up front that that was unacceptable at my shows, but I didn’t know how he was gonna do. He got up there, NO VOCALS!!! My heart was pleased af. And it’s funny, no matter how Hip-Hop my events be, Boxx came with that dope ass jigg production, and niggas was jiggin. This is still BR ya know. But Boxx can really rap, so it worked. He even acknowledged it was his first time rapping over his vocals, and my crowd really appreciated that.
Now it’s Nilly’s turn. Mane that mane bodied it. Stole the show. He did 5 different styles as he called em, “cypher, mixtape, storytelling, conscious, and hits.” And he killed em all. Dope thing about the night, I didn’t have to beg the crowd to come to the front of the stage. Maybe once in the beginning, but as the night progressed, it happened organically. Nilly is extremely skilled as an emcee, makes good music, and he’s a damn great performer.
After them was the OG’s The Ill Relatives. Them dudes are def seasoned artists, but they haven’t lost a step as it pertains to emceeing or performing. A good portion of their production is produced by S1, who’s produced for Beyonce, Kanye, Little Brother, Erykah Badu, etc. So they shit knocks over house speakers. Really dope set, ending when some new records I’ve never heard. PUT THE PROJECT OUT MANE!!!
Confession, I HATE PERFORMING IN BATON ROUGE!!! Not because I think I’m too big for BR, but bc the majority of the time I rap at home I have to put the show together myself. Between local rap politics and nobody being able to afford me, I only rap in BR like 6 times a yr, charity, opening up for someone with a bigger name, or if I do the show myself. When I say put on the show myself, I mean, book acts, book DJ, manage the event, do 90% of the promotion, host, work my own merch table, and then rap. Forget having fun, because if I drink too much to relax I fuck up the words. If I’m too tightly wound I’m not letting the spirit use me. It’s a great problem to have. Like a positive conundrum.
A lot of kids who come to Fade The Flow have never seen me perform, since I rarely rap in BR. They just think I’m the old fat guy who does barber shop shows, so I kinda got something to prove here. Let the Pandas know why I’m the OG. Then, I always feel pressure to show my home crowd why I’m such a big deal on the road, and I feel like I never do. Then there was a few cats who don’t like me in that bih, so yeah the pressure was on.
I decided to choose songs that allowed me to vent my frustrations with what’s going on right now in Black America. I’m always weird about performing the same songs over in over in front of my home crowd, I guess I don’t want them to be bored. So I pull out “PPL 1st” and “Henry Clay,” on the former leading the crowd chanting Alton Sterling in call in response fashion, and having the crowd saying “Fuck Salamoni” & Fuck Howie Lake” on the latter. Lit.
Then I asked the crowd’s permission to talk some shit. Since the XXL thing happened, I’ve received a lot of hate that I don’t address, so for 2 songs I decided to let em hang. I got into “Bad Man,” which is a crowd favorite, great crowd participation. Next is “BR7MC.” Wrote this song at the end of ‘15, recorded a version in April of ‘16, but never released it. I’ve only performed this song like 3 times, so the words are still kinda shaky to me. I’m pretty sure the fellas who don’t like me think this song is about them, but it’s really not. Rapper’s rap about how dope they are, how many hoes they fuck, how much money/dope/cars/jewels they got, but let a conscious nigga who never raps about himself say he the “God Emcee” and watch how folk react. Real heads who understand what the title of “God Emcee” means to a scene respeck it, sucka niggas feel played. I can’t do nothing about that. Anyways, I Kick the first verse without a flaw, and once I get to the hook, the all the rappers in the building except Ryal and Verge look like they feel played as fuck lol. Then I fuck it up.
Second verse comes on, and I began rappin the 2nd verse to “Bad Man!!!” Only person who knows it, is Justin, and he’s lookin at me like “Wtf bro?” So I cut it. Try to kick the 2nd verse to “BR7MC” acapella, and stumble through that bih. I can’t eem blame that on the Henny. Nigga legit messed up, & couldn’t shake it back. I’m sure the niggas who don’t like me are having a field day with this lol. I’m not really trippin, bc as person who travels all over the country doing this, it happens. Shit happens.
So to redeem myself, I call KP Soul up, and we get into “By Any Means,” and mane did we body it. That nigga sang his ass off. To eff they head up, I kicked a, old ass new acapella before “Stare & Whisper” and that and the song itself went over well, as it’s a crowd favorite. Next me & KP do “Cry Freedom,” and I did the dummy by having the wrong version, the one I use on the road with Keith can’t be there. It didn’t matter, that nigga sang like Black freedom depended on it. Our chemistry is really good, we need to do more music together.
People told me they enjoyed my set, even though it was far from my best, I did find a way to get this monkey of my back. I did surprisingly well at the merch table. And yo, I won’t make habit of blogging local shows as much, or writing this long. I’m still workin out here.
Venue Rating: 4/5
Crowd Response: 4/5
Merch Sales: 4/5
Next Show: May 26th @ The Satellite Bar, Houston, Texas
Baton Rouge veteran emcee Marcel P. Black has already received high praise from some of the most well respected names in Hip-Hop. Most recently Marcel was featured on XXL.com’s list “12 Baton Rouge Rappers You Should Know,” also highlighted on HipHopDX.com’s “Up Next By DX” feature. Marcel regularly tours the Southeast, Gulf Coast, and Southwest, appearing at Atlanta’s A3C Festival, as well as other festivals in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, & Tennessee.