ScHoolboy Q And Pusha T Rock The Boiler Room
The Boiler Room—a globe-traveling series of parties that brings together world-renowned DJs, major artists and in-the-know fans—is admittedly a weird place. At BR's last major NYC event, which was headlined by Cam'ron and Solange, a friend overheard an excited attendee say, "I think Chris Rock is DJ'ing," when it was actually legendary producer Pete Rock on the 1's and 2's. As an exclusive party that only reveals its physical location hours before the start time, you can imagine the trendy people (who don't seem to care much about the music) it attracts, but last night's installment of the Boiler Room, which was co-sponsored by New Era, was a huge success.
The event, held at New York's Downtown Community Television Center—a pop-up location in an actual TV studio from which the show was live-streamed—was a perfect execution of DIY planning, and the positively excited crowd helped turn the night into more of a party than a concert.
Originally set to feature DJ sets from Mayer Hawthorne (who started out as a hip-hop DJ despite his foray into R&B crooning) and Young Guru (Jay-Z's longtime studio engineer), Guru was inexplicably a no-show, but filling in for him was the equally iconic producer Large Professor. Hawthorne started the night aggressively with a transition from a Jock Jams cut to Kanye's "Black Skinhead" before getting into some retro tunes by The Beach Boys and speeding it up with some Detroit techno and Chicago juke. After exploring some of his own tunes and throwback R&B cuts, Hawthorne passed the baton.
Next up was Large Pro, who catered his set to the predominantly young crowd by playing some newer hits like "Heaven," from Jay-Z's Magna Carta and French Montana's "Ocho Cinco." But, as the resident old-head in the house, Pro took it upon himself to school the kids on some classic hip-hop shit, offering to "take us uptown" by playing some old-school break beats. Throughout his 45-minute set, Pro hopped on the mic and reassured the crowd that he was celebrating "real hip-hop," and went on to play choice cuts from New York natives like Nas and A$AP Rocky as well as out-of-towners like Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T. After a short trip through rap's recent hits, Pro expertly closed his set out with a juxtaposition of the old and the new by playing Jay-Z's "FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt" before a circa-1989 deep cut from KRS-One.
Minutes later, as all 150 attendees lifted their cameras high, VA representer Pusha T hit the stage and promptly ran through a series of stellar verses from a series of G.O.O.D. Music cuts like "Mercy," "New God Flow" and "Don't Like." He then offered to "take it back to where it all started," and got into The Clipse's seminal hit "Grindin'," and the crowd went wild with nostalgic excitement. After mentioning his forthcoming debut album My Name Is My Name and calling it the "best rap album of the year," Push rewarded the wild crowd some recent solo standout tracks like "Millions" and "Blocka." Finally, he closed out the set with his catchy new single "Numbers On The Boards," a song his fans knew every word to.
Finally, at around 11:15, as if emerging from a billowing cloud of weed smoke, the night's headliner ScHoolboy Q hit the stage. Apparently already super high (I overheard that he'd smoked 10 blunts on the way to the show), Q looked calm and comfortable as he addressed the crowd. Before letting the excitement die down, he quickly started the set with his mosh-inducing "NigHtmare On Figg St." He quickly followed that up with some slower, more introspective mixtape cuts like "iBETiGOTSUMWEED" and "Blessed," and even premiered an exclusive new song off his upcoming Oxymoron album, featuring fellow Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar. With the crowd satiated and in a full-on flop sweat, Q closed out the night with his anthemic single "Yay Yay," which the crowd danced feverishly to before eventually dancing out of the venue and into the hot New York City night.—Dan Buyanovsky