Photography By: Christina Kelly
In what can only be described as an experience rather than just a show, Hopsin brought heat and energy to his New York fans Saturday night (Feb. 22) at Irving Plaza for his Knock Madness tour, which he kicked off earlier this year in Santa Cruz, CA. Opening acts included the likes of former battle rapper Soul Khan and BX born and bred rapper YC the Cynic. While it is rare that an opening act can adequately set the tone for a Hopsin show, both were notably able to hold their own during their respective sets.
Accompanied by fellow Funk Volume signee DJ Hoppa, the Los Angeles rapper started the show on, as expected, a note of high energy, seemingly transferred almost instantaneously by the already amped crowd. Starting off with track one on Knock Madness, Hop satiated his fans with the album favorite “The Fiends are Knocking.” He managed to top the preliminary liveliness in true Hopsin fashion, following the banger with other album favorites including “Hop Madness,” and other bravado driven tracks like “Rip Your Heart Out” and “Gimme That Money,” starting not only his crowd surfing earlier on in the show, but proceeding to crowd walk, with fans holding the audacious lyricist by his ankles as he walked atop their heads and gave some ceremonious dap to fans in the balcony.
Hopsin slowed things down a bit with more vulnerable, relatable tracks like “I Need Help,” where he discusses his issues with success, and “Good Guys Get Left Behind” and “Still Got Love for You,” where he laments on the struggles of his romantic experiences. In homage to his day-one fans, Hop also performed classics from his earlier albums, like “How You Like Me Now,” the second official single off his second studio album, Raw, and album where he unabashedly disses many mainstream rappers like Drake, Lil Wayne and Lupe Fiasco. The dissing didn’t stop at Raw, and Hopsin performed his other renowned track “Ill Mind of Hopsin 4,” a track mainly known as a direct attack on Tyler, the Creator, featuring stark criticism of his fellow California native’s Goblin album and “Yonkers” music video.
The crowd barely skipped a beat. They were used to Hopsin’s less-than-orthodox manner when he invited different fans from the crowd to help him perform three songs. Most noteworthy of these impromptu performances was the mini-cypher orchestrated on stage during “Lunchtime Cypher,” a track he brought out featured Rhode Island rapper Passionate MC to help him perform before inviting three self-proclaimed MCs from the crowd. After laying down the rules, DJ Hoppa replayed the beat and, in true cypher fashion, the three MCs showed Hop their lyrics prowess. It was all love on the stage after the MC named Deebo was claimed winner of the mini-cypher, and the show continued seamlessly until a female fan decided to throw a soda can on stage to get Hopsin’s attention. Other than that moment, which prompted a vigorous 3-minute “A**HOLE” chant, the show was nothing short of dope, if not wholesomely entertaining. Hopsin definitely delivered to his East Coast family, with an impressive stamina that only proves that he’s only just getting started.—Christina Kelly