On a Monday night, in one of Kansas City’s most pristine venues, The Midland Theatre, about a thousand kids were screaming at the top of their lungs about “titty-ass hands in the air.” I’ve never, ever understood what Titty-ass hands are, although the mental images seem to do the job. Regardless, Schoolboy Q’s “Man of the Year” shook the venue’s floor.
If you’re looking for a man of the year, look no further than Schoolboy. After releasing his superb Blank Face LP earlier this year, Schoolboy has been on a one-man wrecking crew tour. Hitting cities around the country with the intensity of a caged bull being released onto the streets of Compton, which is an accurate depiction of Schoolboy as a rapper.
Notoriously representing Hoover St. in one of Compton’s grittiest projects, Schoolboy has seemingly seen it all, and done it all. He’s been in and out of the clink. He’s dealt drugs. Been shot at and shot back at his foes. So when the dude raps, you FEEL it.
One of the most palpable proofs of this energy is on the crew-cut “Tookie Knows Pt. 2” When he charged into this song late into his set, there was this eerie sense that anyone in the building could catch a case just by listening to this hard-as-F*** song. It’s one of those songs that you could imagine bumping while cruising down the streets late at night, looking for trouble.
Schoolboy’s music is a depiction of the streets and his upbringing, but it’s also a portrayal of where he is currently, and where he will be in the future. He raps about dealing with the ties of the life behind him, and trying to make good on his promises to his new life to be a better father and man in general.
However, none of this sentiment stops these songs from hitting harder than a baseball bat to the dome. “Gangsta” and “Yay Yay” sound like bricks falling from the sky right into your ears. There is so much raw intensity in these tracks. The crowd fed off this intensity and formed mosh pits to fester the energy even further.
Of course, the bangers just kept coming throughout Schoolboy’s almost two-hour long set. “Hands on the Wheel” received incredible reception, and one of the hardest hitting tracks off his newest album “Groovy Tony” was rapped almost entirely acapella, and it was almost more hype than with the beat behind it.
Opener Joey Bada$$ provided the essential 90’s boom-bap soundtrack to set the show off right. Opening with “Christ Conscious” and diving into a set rife with crowd pleasers like “Waves” off debut mixtape 1999 and closing with his massive new hit “Devastated,” Joey killed his set. It’s great to see that fans are still receptive to real East coast hip hop.
The show was everything you could want from a rap show, down to the intermission DJ spinning all the hits you would expect (Antidote, F*** Up Some Commas, Panda.) Schoolboy did the best he could with a Monday night show and delivered a performance that solidified his already right reputation as the man of the year.