Big Boi and Killer Mike bring much-needed R.A.P. Music to SF


Two of the most ferocious names in hip hop descended upon Mezzanine in San Francisco May 17, as Southern fire-breather Big Boi and force of nature Killer Mike brought some much needed rhymes to the bay. Killer Mike made his debut on Outkast’s landmark LP Stankonia, and he also is featured on “The Whole World”, which the two giants of R.A.P. Music performed together during Big Boi’s set.

Killer Mike knows how to command a room’s collective attention, which is something of a challenge for an opening act, as many a show-goer will defer to chatting and drinking while waiting for the main act. During the third song Thursday night, two intrusive security guards trounced through the middle of the crowd with flashlights at a top down, forty-five degree angle, presumably looking for pot-smokers. Killer Mike stopped mid-spit, the music was halted, and the larger-than-life nonconformist launched into his first anti-establishment argument. In this case it was lighthearted; “Everyone smoke your weed – they can’t get everybody.” Most likely the security guards were roadies and it was all part of the act, but either way it effectively established pin-drop silence and crowd attentiveness.


His command is impressive, and Michael Render is also accessible, engaging while acting politically assertive, asking you to join his thought process. His energy, charming smile & effective use of language draws you into him, which allows his points to absorb in the listener, making even overt political statements sink in easier. With “Reagan”, Mike puts a large dent into the idealized memory the Republican Party celebrates daily for their most adored president. He began the song with a long soliloquy that set the stage for Mike to entice a large portion of the crowd to chant “I’m glad Reagan’s dead” by the end of the best political protest song in recent memory, essentially spitting on his grave. Single handedly, Killer Mike is a force that is battling the right wing celebration of everything Ronald Reagan, and when the the American right moves to put him on the twenty dollar bill, watch for this song to be the opposition anthem.

Mike took pride in his political, but not partisan focus before finishing the set, showing that standing up against Establishment wrongs can be entertaining and fun, and his take-charge tone projects pure leadership and is slightly contageous. It’s easy to imagine Killer Mike as a leading figure in hip-hop within one more album cycle. He’s already completed a new album with El-P, and they’ll be heading out on tour together this summer, stopping in SF July 30.

While Killer Mike might say things some people don’t want to hear (I think he’s dead on), San Francisco concert goers were treated Thursday night to a satisfying greatest hits show by Big Boi. The half of Outkast that was more likely to deliver dexterous, lightning-fast lyrics than hooky refrains understands what people want to hear when they see him live. The set blasted off with an Outkast medley, featuring “ATliens”, “Skew it on the Bar-B”, & “Rosa Parks” in mash-up fashion. Sir Lucious tapped into his catchiest, most upbeat solo songs from his 2012 LP Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors like “Apple of My Eye” and “CPU”. One of the only surprising drawbacks was the lack of solo tracks from his two excellent solo records and a glutton of Outkast jams.


Big Boi may be performing “solo” these days, but he’s anything but alone. Throughout the evening he was joined by his live band, DJ, female backup singer Keisha Jackson, a geeky white guy, his entourage, a gaggle of dancing women, Killer Mike for four songs and BlackOwned C-Bone, who played hype-man and oddly filled the André 3000 role at times. Big Boi even took a break, allowing C-Bone to have the stage for a song to up his importance. He’s certainly as entertaining a stage presence as Big Boi, and he psyched out the audience by saying they were slowing things down before launching into “Shutterbugg”.

Big Boi still projects bravado, and he’s a showman that’s has curated a live concert experience that caters to his most well known work. His joy and love for SF seemed true this night, so much that he reappeared for four encore songs and a 1am shutdown.


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  1. […] Big Boi // Mike Frash Mezzanine // 5.17.13 […]

  2. […] View photos and our live review from the Big Boi + Killer Mike show at Mezzanine May 17. […]

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