Last Thursday night at Velvet Jones was unlike many, at least as far as hip-hop shows go.
Co-headliners Kirk Knight and Mick Jenkins each boast unique relationships with their fans — though both groups are more likely to rap along with a whole 18-bar verse than sing along with a bottle poppin’ hook. There were plenty of hats and shirts that looked just like Malia Obama’s, an open indication of thePro Era crew’s increasing number of devotees. Knight gave a valiant effort on stage despite a rather lethargic crowd (and a middling at best sound system), and never let the evening’s somewhat dreary tone take away from his energy. When he seemed at a loss, he’d relate directly, with a joke or an off-the-cuff remark and recapture everyone’s attention.
Mick Jenkins reminded the crowd to stay on top of their hydration habits throughout his set, issuing a call-and-response of the title of his seminal project, “Drink More Water.” Jenkins is a powerful presence on stage, and not just because he’s huge and sports a Samurai-style man-bun. He raps ferociously and his words are confident and delivered like prophesies. Throughout the night he’d make direct eye contact with people, saying he was seeing who was resonating.
Despite the pretty bad sound mix and a general sense of fatigue from the crowd, the night ended on a positive note. These are the shows that people always tell their friends about years later, the shows that everyone had an excuse to miss. I can’t help but imagine what might have happened if Velvet had been packed.