Kendrick Lamar Rocks XXL and Hennessy Show in NYC [Photo Gallery]
It was a great night for hip-hop at SOBs in New York City on Monday (December 19) as 2011 XXL Freshman Kendrick Lamar and XXLMag.com Break artists Emilio Rojas, Phil Ade, King Mez and Mr. Motherfuckin eXquire shut the at-capacity venue down with back-to-back performances. Partnering with Hennessy, XXL put on a showcase to present The Break, a section on XXLMag.com where up-and-coming artists show and prove their skills.
While doors for the invite-only event opened at 8 p.m., a line wrapped around the Lower Manhattan block more than an hour before that, with the earliest eager fans showing up mid-afternoon. Once inside, the capacity crowd—a healthy mix of excited music heads and industry insiders—was treated to a memorable show.
Straight off the plane from Compton, Kendrick Lamar followed up his memorable September SOBs performance with another outstanding showing. Performing songs from both his Overly Dedicated and Section.80 releases, K. Dot proved that he is the rapper's rapper with songs like “Rigamortis” and “Look Out For Detox.” The audience got particularly excited for “Michael Jordan,” “A.D.H.D.,” and “The Spiteful Chant,” as they rapped along with the words (when they could keep up, that is).
Though things slowed down a bit when the crowded stage needed to be cleared during Kendrick's set, he quickly injected energy back into the room; the Top Dawg Ent. artist brought out his labelmate and former XXL Freshman Jay Rock for “Hood Gone Love It,” from the Watts native's album Follow Me Home, which hit stores in July.
Harlem native and Polo Grounds signee A$AP Rocky also joined Kendrick on stage to show support early on. The two will be embarking on Drake's Club Paradise Tour together in 2012. Other rappers in the house included Mac Miller, Talib Kweli and Smoke DZA.
DMV representer Phil Ade was a favorite of the night. The Maryland native has been sure to keep his music in fans' ears recently, as he's been dropping new songs every week as part of his #PhilAdeFridays series. Winning the packed house over thanks to his energetically delivered rhymes, the MC kicked songs from recent mixtapes before bringing his set home with his latest leak, “Gone”—which has already been gaining traction on D.C. radio—and then spitting some fierce bars a capella. His PhilAdeFriday Vol. 2 will be out at the end of the month.
Mr. Motherfuckin eXquire, who exhausted his set by going almost twenty minutes over, showed it wasn't just his music with a throwback '90s feel; the Brooklyn native graced the stage with more than twenty members of his crew, some of which held 40 ounce beers in their hands. The rapper, who gained some notoriety thanks to his Lost In Translation release from September, rocked out to songs from that project including “Huzzah!” and “Lou Ferigno's Mad.”
With host Sway helping to focus the building's excitement, King Mez kicked the night off. The 21-year-old North Carolina rapper passionately performed songs from his King's Khrysis—a free project from earlier this year, entirely produced by Khrysis. At the end of his set when Mez got the entire room behind him as he performed his recent leak “Reign,” and then, at Sway's request, kicked an a capella to wrap things up.
Emilio Rojas, who is prepping his mixtape Breaking Point for a January release, proved that even though he's young, his flow is seasoned. The Rochester rapper balanced double-time flows with a more standard approach, as he treated the crowd to some of his older stuff, like “Bold and Arrogant,” as well as cuts from the upcoming project, including the well-received “Middle Finger.”
As he does to finish each show, Kendrick got into his Section.80 single and fan-favorite “HiiiPower,” before closing things out with an a capella version of “I Am (Interlude).” On the track, he promises, “My plan B is to win your hearts before I win a Grammy.” Safe to say he's got the former under control, and the latter, one day, doesn't seem unlikely. —Adam Fleischer