It’s generally not a good sign when artists spends more
time hyping the official after-party than they do on stage. As
Young Chris, one half of the Roc-A-Fella rap duo the Young Gunz,
barked the address of the official after-party into the mic on
Friday, the Young Gunz and their obligatory posse walked off stage
after a 20 minute “set.”

Unfortunately for those who arrived later, the opening act
proved to be the best performers of the bunch. Longtime underground
rappers Dilated Peoples opened the show before the Young Gunz and
the headliner, Kanye West. The group, whose newest album
Neighborhood Watch is getting plenty of radio rotation
thanks to the West-produced single “This Way,”
thankfully did nothing to forget its roots or its fan base. With
clean, articulated raps, well-timed verses and a joyous stage
manner, they looked like the only people having fun that night on
stage.

Most of the lifeblood left the stage as soon as the next act,
the up-and-coming Young Gunz, grabbed the mic. While neither Young
Chris or the awkwardly named Neef are stellar rappers, they both
managed not to trip over their insipid verses on their debut, Tough
Luv. This night, however, was a different story. Their microphones
did nothing against the hail storm of bass in each song.
Neef’s raps were quickly mumbled and most of the onstage
posse often carried the heavy rapping load. Chris, the superior of
the two, did climb on the speakers to deliver a verse from their
hit, “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” For the ode
to booty “Tip Drill,” the gents had an assorted group
of young women from the audience come onstage and do their best
Beyonce impressions. Apparently the women did quite well, as the
Young Gunz kept them onstage for the rest of their thankfully short
set.

Their conversations with the audience between songs stuck to the
duo dividing the crowd into two sides and prompting the halfs to
toss insults at each other. Repeated flashing of the Roc-A-Fella
sign followed. The duo closed their set with the lead single from
their album, “No Better Love.” Fittingly, both men were
flashing their jewelry and staring at their chains as they rapped
about affection and devotion. The women still gyrating in the
background looking awfully lonely, and like that, the Young Gunz
were gone — women in tow — shouting out the after-party
location about 15 times in the span of 10 seconds.

Kanye West is one of the most in-vogue rap and R&B producers
on the planet. After a wait in which the audience heard the same
album twice, the man himself took the stage to a chorus of boos and
screams.

All was forgiven as West began spitting “Two Words”
off his debut album, College Dropout. West has received far
too much credit as a rapper. His occasionally witty reflections
don’t mitigate the fact that he possesses an unwieldy, often
ham-handed control of his verses. In fact he let the audience do
most of the rapping on a few songs. Even more frustrating, Kanye
played a game of “name-that-tune” when he had the crowd
shout out the names of the hit songs he produced not long after the
DJ starting spinning them. Perhaps the brightest spot in the set
was his uninhibited freestyle over “Stand Up,” a track
he produced for Ludacris. Expectedly, he brought Dilated Peoples
back on stage for their hit “This Way.” The crowd
seemed grateful to see them again and reveled in their on stage joy
and humble attitudes.

If nothing else, the show was a glorious display of ego from a
man who has one hit album and a handful of production successes.
Kanye seemed to let his arrogance off the chain the entire night,
whether it was making the crowd wait an obscene amount of time or
his lazy, poor performance on the microphone. Kanye already has the
corpulent, shoddy attitude of a commercial rap fat cat.

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