Anyone who left Theta Chi’s Zion I and Mistah Fab outdoor show last Saturday without a few black and blue spots,smashed eyeglasses,mysterious bite marks,or at least an elbow to the stomach should count themselves lucky.
In town like Davis,chock full of young hip-hop fans from the Bay Area,you have to expect that people are going to get bit crazy – or you might say,hyphy,when two extremely popular hip-hop artists from Oakland come to visit.
The double lineup nicely catered to both fans of the socially conscious and poetic underground fare of Zion I as well as the lighter-themed,pounding,up-tempo beats of Mistah Fab that anyone who listens to the radio even occasionally has probably memorized perfectly.
This isn’t to say that the crowd was utterly out of control the entire time.The vigorous local and UC Davis student band Sex,Funk,and Danger got the audience moving and grooving benignly and not belligerently with their hybrid of hip-hop,funk and jazz.
Sacramento rapper and second act Nifty was surprisingly crowd-pleasing,particularly with the catchy “Rydah.” Although evidently not well known in Davis,he jumped on stage and almost immediately carried the audience.
When Zion I took the stage,however,it became obvious that the crowd had come to see them.Rapper Zion’s positive,unavoidable energy and incandescent stage presence made it difficult to turn your gaze away.
The best live performers are those who catch your attention even if when have never heard their music before,in recorded form.Zion I is one of these artists.
Whether a first time listener or Zion I patron,it’s doubtful to imagine that anybody,even a bystander on the street,could have possibly been bored seeing them live on Saturday.Personally,I was transfixed.Even an attendee who knew very little about the meaning behind the lyrics he spat would inevitably be carried by Zion’s powerful delivery amid crafty,infectious beats.
However,as soon as Mistah Fab and his perhaps19-person entourage walked on the stage,the environment took a turn for dangerous.Listeners were in constant jeopardy as they were forced to traverse through a jungle of flailing arms,legs and the unsuppressed enthusiasm of the people around them.
In other words,it was hyphy.So hyphy I had to remind myself I was still in Davis.Although I can’t say that I get that happy when I hear “Stupid Dumb and Hyphy” on the radio when I’m by myself,listening to it while in a gigantic crowd of kids who are actually acting stupid,dumb and hyphy is something else entirely.
A worthwhile hip-hop performance will probably leave its watchers with a few scrapes,just like any good hardcore show will probably have a few moshers who take things a little far.Mistah Fab is a pretty big guy with a larger-than-life presence,so his pulsating energy didn’t help to calm the crowd down one bit.
In a society where we are normally a little too sensitive of personal space,it’s nice sometimes to see people finally come alive and interact in the name of a common passion – in this case,Bay Area hip-hop music and culture.Even if things get a little out of hand.
Without taking himself or anything he does too seriously,Mistah Fab did a good job of reminding Bay kids why they love where they are from– when you call us “stupid,” we take it as compliment.