Concurrent downlow Rusty Lazer set across the bridge at Ruby Room notwithstanding, Y3K at DNA Lounge was the place to be for hip-hop in the Bay Area on Friday night. This is a disputable claim, given the hordes of Youtube haters that run amok over headliner Kitty Pryde's channel. But a Hottub-Main Attrakionz-Pryde 1-2-3 punch will tell you more about where hip-hop is today than any number of shows by more universally-accepted rappers.
I got to the show after DJ sets by FRIENDZONE, Matrixxman, and Marco de la Vega opened it. Hottub, an Oakland group fronted by a triad of heartstoppingly perfect female emcees was the first live act of the night.
This group is one of those things I should have paid more attention to way, way earlier. Hottub is fire. Its music is high-energy stompfest, and I have never seen women fondle their boobs more self-assuredly on a stage. Hottub's attitude has a lot to do with punk and funk, but there's no denying that emcees Coco Machete, Ambr33zy, and Lolipop have mad hip-hop swagger and flow and the kind of self-confidence that says if you don't like it they don't really care anyway.
At one point towards the end, Hottub called half of the audience up to party with them, and all of a sudden the stage was filled with a bunch of really hot females, a tall skater guy who assumed centerstage and began to make a "x" with his hands over his crotch. To the beat. Eventually he was tackled by one of the members of Hottub, because apparently he was a friend of theirs. Another guy hopped up there who was probably someone's dad who really likes Wu Tang. He had a T-shirt with the names of the clan members on it.
Main Attrakionz played it a little more close to the traditional contours of the rap game, albeit with that hazy, promethazine-inflected lean of the cloud rap genre they helped kick off. Emcee MondreM.A.N. has made it clear that the duo's beats aren't club-party music, but someone forgot to tell the crowd at DNA, who remassed their cumulus around MondreM.A.N. and Squadda B everytime they swapped the DNA stage for a go-go platform and back again.
In case you were wondering, you can get girls on lean -- the two turned a performance of "Take U There" off 2012's Bossalinis and Foolyiones into a lover's moment ("Thugs get lonely baby, that's why I called ya.") This was also the first concert in which I've seen someone drop and break their cellphone, an occurence that was not noticed by the performers until a song or two later.
I feeling slightly jumbled by the time Kitty Pryde inched on stage after hanging around the edges of it during the Main Attrakionz set.
Pryde's San Francisco debut was maybe the buzziest portion of the night. If you took a break from the Internet last week/summer, you may have missed that she's a Daytona Beach teenager currently assuming the "ruining hip-hop" mantle with her geekiness, doodles, weird voices. But unlike say, Ke$ha, Kitty Pryde can rap and like a rapper, she combats haters with considerable grace and counter-aggresiveness.
She spent the first handful of songs breathily self-deprecating, comparing herself unfavorably with the opening acts and squeaking. Her EP is called haha i'm sorry, as befitting a rap parody of a teenage white girl.
At some point, Main Attrakionz came back out onstage, their motivations for doing so unclear. Did they feel the need to save her from a crowd unsure of what to do with all the performance art? Were they feeling the set and wanted to lend their energy? Kitty asked MondreM.A.N. if he could please get everybody bouncing because they weren't listening to her. Hot Sugar, Kitty's DJ and Internet boyfriend, looked on heavy-lidded from the back of the stage.
But then Kitty hit her stride and started performing, and it turns out she can grind (on MondreM.A.N.'s back, in this case) in a way that is not white girl-embarassing. It turns out she's actually a rapper, even if she wears bigass fake sunflowers in her hair, and flower print leggings with her oversize black tee. She wouldn't sing her Justin Beiber song even though Hot Sugar started the beat because, she said, she was made at Beiber for getting an Ellen Degeneres haircut. Note to Kitty: all of his haircuts are Ellen Degeneres haircuts. (Kids!)
A lot going on in a single show. Even the flyer was a trippy, four-eyed kitten. It was like some kind of Internet collage where you can post videos, photos, rambling monologues, and hit on people obliquely. Someone should make a web platform like that.