Day 25: Hollywood’s Fonda Theater played host to a show in the final stretch of the massive RedBull Sound Select 30 Days In LA event. Southern Hip-Hop legend Juicy J is headlining with support from RBSS artists Two-9 and Tree. Hip-Hop’s ever evolving faces sold out the event as a range from Cholos to mustached Amish hat wearing hipsters filed in, proving how fashionable the genre has become once again. If someone asked me in 1997 who would still be relevant in 2014 I probably wouldn’t have picked Juicy but an Academy Award and recent American Music Award win put him ahead of a slew of forgotten legends including KRS-One and even fellow Tennessee trail blazers 8-Ball & MJG. The acts opening for him are about half his age and trying to catch up. With the help of RedBull, they are a step ahead.
RedBull, not ones to be cheap, have placed Chicago rapper Tree and his entourage in a Hollywood Condo and a suite at the new Ace hotel Downtown. Tree has been getting support from tastemakers for his Sunday School mixes which showcase his gravely voice over hard hitting Hip-Hop tracks in the vein of the Chi’s own Kanye and No I.D., but with a Trap influence. Chicago has been getting it in lately thanks to Chance The Rapper, Chief Keef, Vic Mensa, Tink and too many more to name. With RedBull behind him offering the chance to tour, get free studio time and be placed with veterans like Juicy J he has been making the opportunity count. Citing local crew Project Mayhem for boosting him up, he has developed a style he describes as “Soul Trap”, bringing the history of the city and it’s music (which includes Buddy Guy to Jeremih and Common) together intellectually in a package that is familiar enough for the current market. With a big smile contrasted by raw Cabrini Green project lyrics he runs through a set that starts the night off right, leaving the crowd prepped for Two-9 to follow up.
Atlanta has returned to prominence as a hot bed for the current Trap scene that has brought Hip-Hop back into fashion. Two-9 is a clique from the ATL’s East side and as one-member stresses, “The six. The real six” a nod to it being police zone 6, not a zip or area code reference. Comprised of the 2 groups FatKidsBrotha (Johnny and Dave), Retro Su$hi (CeeJ and Jason) as well as solo artist Curtis Williams (who was not at the show that night) the insanely energetic and hilarious crew have been riding off the buzz of their two 2012 mixes, Two9Forever and a Christmas mix they released with Don Cannon. When asked what it’s like trying to find some light amidst a slew of new comers from the same city Johnny says, “It’s like a High School, like a cafeteria. You know when you hear all those voices, there’re so many conversation at once. But who’s gonna shut everybody up and make them listen.” A great analogy, but what else would you expect from a rapper. Besides having RedBull to help break their careers they are set to drop a full-length album, FRVR, in 2015 with executive producer Mike Will Made-It on his Eardrummers/Interscope label. There aren’t many in the game bigger than Mike Will at the moment so anticipation is high. In the meantime they have the Before Forever mix set to drop any day now as well as Curtis Williams free solo album, Danco James, available on his Soundcloud page.
Thoroughly engaging, Two-9 left what was a crowd of strangers worn out as if they had came for the Atlanta boys specifically. As the fashionably late arrive, Juicy J takes the stage with his 5-piece band and heads straight into his latest hit “Low”. Why blow your wad so early??? An hour later you realize he has far more hits so why hold the new track like a treat in front of a dog. LA can be so polite. A medley of classic Three-6-Mafia tunes were greeted with cheers despite it being painfully obvious that the crowd in attendance were either too young in the late 90’s or were simply not listening to Hip-Hop until last year. Picking the energy up, J drops his comeback hit “Bands Make Her Dance” and before cutting it off when the guest verses came in, low and behold the special guest of the night…. Lil Wayne! Cell phones up. Fuck living in the moment, we need to show our friends what we just saw! RedBull came through big with an A-lister and everyone is going home happy. Not to mention, we all received complimentary chocolate chip cookies on the way out.
25 Days down, 5 to go.
words & photos: Dominic Painter @DJDPainter