This was the 30th and final day of Red Bull Sound Select’s, 30 Days in L.A. It marks the end of November and the start of the holiday season. Day 1 seemed like it was yesterday and much of the month was a blur as I covered 17 shows and the rest of the Janky Smooth crew covered the other nights. Red Bull really bit off a lot but they delivered a great bill on almost every night of the month.
Walking up to the Hollywood Palladium, I witnessed a line of people trying to get into the ASAP Mob show that stretched from Argyle, onto sunset and around El Centro. Sunset was closed to traffic due to an earlier Xmas parade. There was something in the air and it wasn’t Xmas cheer. Things feel different. I don’t feel that unity that happens this time of year that makes us all forget our differences for this short period of time. There is a struggle going on in this country right now between the Norman Rockwell painting that projects an image of this country that doesn’t exist anymore and the reality of a decaying infrastructure, disappearing middle class, militarization of police forces and the expansion of an unprecedented amount of public surveillance. Racial tensions are off the charts. Music and art can either help us release the pressure valve or make it boil over. By the end of the night, things definitely boiled over.
The night started out innocently enough with Saba, an M.C. from the west side of Chicago that claims the Pivot Crew– a talented rapper with a tight flow but he made the mistake many people make when playing L.A. for the first time- he expected the crowd to come to him. Saba kept checking on the crowd to make sure we were with him. He kept trying to get the crowd to repeat “Pivot!” and even threatened to not play the next song until we did. An empty threat. It’s hard to imagine the level of ego it takes to walk into this city and expect that the sparse, early attenders would adopt you on command but that type of thinking is probably why big things are on the horizon for Saba.
I was curious about the next M.C./Artist, Tink. Fresh off a collaboration with Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, I would’ve been surprised if Alexis didn’t make an appearance to perform “That did it”. Almost every song Tink performed had a vocal track that she rapped on top of and even though I liked some of them, points were lost for the lack of a more “live”, live show. Alexis Krauss did come out to join Tink after she left the stage for an ill advised encore period. Hip hop is tough to pull off live for some artists. A few tweaks, a few more live shows under her belt and Tink should be just fine.
After Tink left the stage, it took about an hour for ASAP Mob to start their show. When they finally took the stage, they came out guns blazing and showed M.C.’s and crews everywhere how to do it live. The New York collective of rappers bounced around the stage and at every turn, hyped the crowd to hit that next level.
“If y’all don’t know how to ‘mosh pit’ then get yourself to the back” ordered ASAP Rocky as he tried to inspire the L.A. crowd to move around more.
It wasn’t long into the almost hour and a half set that Drake came out as the special guest of the night. You could hear high pitched screams from the crowd and an elevation of the energy in the audience. It would be an understatement to say that I’m not a fan of Drake. He’s pretty much everything I hate about mainstream rap. I am a fan of people having a good time, though. Drake coming out and performing Tuesday with ASAP Mob took the energy up a notch and I can’t be mad at that. Having a good time is infectious and I’m always ready to receive the disease. ASAP Mob tore through the rest of their set on the way to the encore. They closed the show with Multiply. The crowd got real live. ASAP Ferg jumped into the crowd and surfed it until he was completely consumed by a sea of camera phones. And then the show was over.
There was a bad vibe on the street after the show. It seemed like lights of ambulances were flickering everywhere you looked. We witnessed a limp body being dragged from the middle of the street and draped on the street corner after what appeared to be a very short and very one-sided fight. I recognized the bloodied man from earlier in the night. I saw him getting in peoples faces the entire show until finally, he tested the wrong person. Brawls were breaking out everywhere. Something sparked the crowd into violence. I’ve seen worse scenes after punk shows at the Palladium in the 90’s but it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen anything like that in Hollywood.
F*ck niggas gon’ multiply
‘Fore the real niggas die, fake niggas gon’ multiply
‘Fore the real niggas live, f*ck niggas won’t multiply
F*ck niggas won’t multiply
F*ck niggas won’t multiply
Words: Danny Baraz
Photos: Taylor Wong