by Mike McCray
The Smoker's Club Tour f. Method Man, Big K.R.I.T., Curren$y
Nov. 16, 2011
The Smoker’s Club Tour rolled through the Queen City again, this time with Wu-Tang legend Method Man in on the action at Amos' Southend on Nov. 16. Starting on time can never be overlooked at a rap concert. To my surprise, I checked the time and right at 9 p.m., opening act Rich Hill — Tommy Hilfiger’s son interestingly enough — was on stage.
Big K.R.I.T. tore through a familiar set full of hits from Return of 4eva and K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, but even fans in the audience noticed that compared to past performances he’d definitely refined his show. The energy was still high but there wasn’t any lingering between songs or forced crowd work. Even new material like “Money on the Floor” went over well with an audience clearly on his side.
Curren$y had the set of the night. Not only did this guy set up a living room on stage, complete with friends and models aimlessly Tweeting from the sofa as he performed, he ripped the set from a wheelchair under doctors orders not to put any weight on his foot after surgery. In between hopping from chair to chair to get more comfortable, his personality shined through. Spitta surprisingly did a ton of songs from his mixtapes Covert Coupe and Verde Terrace but did a pretty good job of mixing in material from Pilot Talk, Pilot Talk II and Weekend at Burnie’s. The best part had to be him checking his watch then deciding he’d perform whatever beat his DJ threw on, that really got the crowd into it, wanting to sway what’s next.
Method Man’s charisma filled the room. Tearing through hits from Tical and beyond, his set was exactly what you’d expect, but was an interesting change for this installment of the Smoker’s Club Tour. The veteran had rocked arenas in the past so it was cool to see how he approached a smaller venue. Siding with Carolina in the Duke-UNC rivalry never hurts either. Meth's crowd surfing was a signature moment.
Of all the openers, which included Texas’ Marcus Manchild, New Orleans’ Cornerboy P, Harlem’s Smoke DZA and a couple others, Chicago’s Paypa was easily the most engaging. He had music you didn’t have to be familiar with to enjoy and a personality that woke up a crowd that sleepwalked through the previous act. Former No Limit-rapper-turned-reinvented-spirit International Jones (Fiend) was also pretty good. Hype man Shiest Bubbz throwing RAW rolling papers in the audience nearly started a frenzy.
Even with most artists being hustled on and off stage pretty quickly, by the time the three main acts got on stage, especially Method Man, attention spans were getting shaky because about nine performers had already graced the stage. Outside of Curren$y, it seemed like the major acts struggled to really feel the vibe of a crowd that was pretty much sober. A smoke-free Smoker’s Club Tour stop had to be underwhelming for them.
I wish some of the mixtape joints that featured guys who were all in attendance had been performed. All of the ingredients for songs like “No Wheaties” were present, but no one carved out time to do it during their set.
Also, I’m all for putting on your up-and-coming guys but Method Man letting Redman’s nephew come out and do more than a couple songs was bothersome. We get it, they have to get on sometime, but I felt like his show was just getting going when he got his time in the spotlight.
Also, Rich Hill selling ‘Support your local drug dealer’ shirts when his dad essentially owned 90s fashion was strange.
All in all, a pretty cool lineup. A show that flowed and gave fans what they asked for but was clearly hurt but state smoking and drug laws. Wasn’t enough liquor in the world to dig out of that hole.