Saturday, September 17
Better than: Your neighborhood bodega.
If the Smithsonian upped its cool factor and wrangled a sponsorship from a multinational corporation looking to promote its iced tea line, the result might be the Brisk Bodega, a made-over West Village storefront serving as a branded homage to Shady Records. Relics like Eminem’s superhero costume from the “Without Me” video and 50 Cent’s diamond-bedazzled bulletproof vest were on display, and shelves of PepsiCo product—Brisk Iced Tea, salty Frito-Lay snacks—were up for grabs to anyone suffering from the munchies. Saturday night, rap media cognoscenti, boys in snapbacks and variations of camouflage, and ladies who refused to relinquish their clingy summer garb despite the turning weather gathered there to catch sets by recent Shady signees Yelawolf and Slaughterhouse.
Yelawolf took the stage first and performed a tight nine-song set consisting of material from his mixtape Trunk Muzik, as well as “Hard White (Up In The Club)” and “No Hands” from his upcoming debut full-length Radioactive. The Alabama rapper appeared onstage decked out in a grey ski cap and a demure brown button-down shirt; over the course of his set he removed his clothing layer by layer until his mohawk and very tanned, very tattooed torso—emblazoned with a Cadillac grill and the phrase “Heart of Dixie”—had been revealed. Significant acoustic issues mired the set (the backing track drowned out the vocals at times), but Yela kept the audience mesmerized with his tales of down South country living, all of which were delivered with a lovely twang and staccato cadence.
Maybe it’s his renegade chic or the striking resemblance to a young Trent Reznor, but Yelawolf has mastered the art of engaging women while maintaining a core male fanbase, and he’s seemingly aware of this. He stopped the set at one point to douse himself with a bottle of water, which set off a string of squeals; during the opening of “I Just Wanna Party,” he engaged in a bit of impromptu grinding with a female fan. These lighter moments also served to balance his darker material like the haunting “Pop The Trunk,” which by itself would have been much too heavy given the atmosphere.
Yelawolf has been compared to labelmate and boss Eminem since the inception of his career, but racial similarities notwithstanding the two are very different artists. If this show was any indication, Yela is quickly becoming a force unto himself and more than capable of carrying the Shady Records torch.
Critical bias: Guzzling a lot of iced tea has its side effects. The indoor venue had Porta-Potties in lieu of actual bathrooms and despite the fact that this job carries with it a certain expectation of slumming it from time to time, this girly critic was less than thrilled.
Overheard: “There’s a 75% chance Eminem is coming.”—overly optimistic rap journalist on the odds that Slim Shady would be the night’s surprise guest performer, which was unfortunately proven wrong.
Random notebook dump: The milk carton prop from the video for “The Real Slim Shady,” which has Dr. Dre’s visage and the word “Missing,” was on display. Over a decade later, the longest and most frustrating joke in hip-hop persists.
Good To Go
You Ain’t No DJ
Hard White (Up In The Club)
I Just Wanna Party
Pop The Trunk