Live: Crooked I Shares The Stage With Slaughterhouse


Wednesday, May 25

Better than: Quoting Yung Joc lyrics.

Even though the lineup had changed, the promo flyer for last night’s show at S.O.B.’s still showed off Crooked I’s scowl, his name looming large alongside. “I know originally we were doing a Crooked I show,” he said, “”but it’s a rare occasion when all of my Slaughter brothers are in one city.” And with that, he cut his solo set to two songs and brought out the rest of the gang–first Royce, then Joell–to perform “Sound Off.” The gimmick allowed each member of Slaughterhouse to have individual shine, even though they each have their own spotlights. (Joe Budden, whose mouth runs on a treadmill, is a walking spotlight unto himself.)

The criticism that Slaughterhouse sometimes gets involves the members trying to make each song their own and therefore fighting one another, but in person their teaming up made sense. They move like a volleyball team: serve, rotate, repeat. Generous, they finish one another’s lines, giving a thundering boom to each punch.

Last night there were a lot of punches, so many spin-it-back moments that Slaughterhouse shows require a DVR. Crooked I: “My father didn’t want me here, but I broke through the Trojan.” Royce da 5’9, from “Fast Lane,” his new team-up with Eminem: “My slow flow is euphoric, it’s like I rap endorphins.”

“It’s lyricism or die!” Crooked I shouted from the stage. “This that Jay-Z shit, that Nas Illmatic shit, that Curtis Jackson with an opinion, 50 two-cents shit.” A guy roamed the crowd with his “Endangered Lyricist” shirt, surrounded by two hundred other fans of lyricism, all oblivious to the irony.

With men standing on chairs and endlessly lurching forward, the room felt claustrophobic and frothy, like being inside of an anthill. There were four members of Slaughterhouse onstage, but the fitteds and t-shirts in the crowd felt like part of the group as well. Joell: “I see a lot of real Slaughterhouse fans. Before the record deals, before the magazines. Fan-fans.” He pauses. “Don’t get it wrong: we love the magazines and record deals, though.”

Only when they stopped the show and invited fans to rap alongside them did the wheels fall off. (Slaughterhouse lyrics–their syllables dense, their structures complicated–are practically impossible, even when reading a print-out; these idiotic volunteers wilted as Joell played the role of Apollo Sandman. Joe wondered aloud, “Why does this never work?”) Drunken, shy, unsure, these fans might have felt comfortable rapping the lyrics down below, but not when they were brought up to stage level–a testament to just how good these guys are.

Critical bias: I made a video of Slaughterhouse as a boy band, and it’s the best.

Overheard: Upon seeing a bunch of Internet personalities outside the door to S.O.B.’s, a blogger said, “Oh, is tonight going to be a Twitter convention?”

Random notebook dump: Joe Budden performed “Ordinary Love Shit Pt. 3,” a six-minute takedown of Esther Baxter in which he details how she supposedly cheated on Joe with a football player while carrying his baby, which was later miscarried. This prompted her to send pictures of her miscarried baby to the black gossip website, along with police reports alleging abuse and a denial of wrongdoing on her part. Hip-hop is a gross soap opera. A girl in the front row rapped along with every lyric, which seemed like a weird thing for her to do.

Set list:
Every Day (Crooked I)
Grindin’ Freestyle (Crooked I)
Sound Off
Onslaught 2
Big Pun’s Back (Joell Ortiz)
Fast Lane (Royce Da 5’9)
2.0 Boys
Ordinary Love Shit Pt. 3 (Joe Budden)
Sober Up