Shot by T. Piper: Propain, surrounded by many including Short Dawg, Kritikal & more.

2011 has made certain that getting through specific shows requires marathon like abilities. We had to take a break during the Houston Hip-Hop Music Fest but decided to stay for the entire go round of last night’s show at Warehouse Live. Billed as Back 2 School With The New Skool, the show essentially acted how WrestleMania does for wrestling. It’s part one night spectacle and part turn of the page towards a new year in the WWE.

When the show’s host Killa Kyleon ended his impromptu set of Candy Paint & Texas Plates 2 material, its weight had obviously been snatched from underneath him.  There’s no way on earth a set that includes Doughbeezy closing with “Pass The Swisher”, Bun B joining Killa for “Bodies” & Jack Freeman for “Make Me” should have been viewed by no more than 30 people in attendance. A shame considering the ferocity Killa displayed over production from Tha Bizness & Lex Luger.

Having Killa perform after the bill may have been perceived as a slight, afterall he was on hosting duties for most of the night stressing the fact it was a Houston show with a slight “Hollywood” crowd. But when Houston’s brightest stars showed out for four straight hours on a sweltering stage, you realize who the night belonged to in the end, the youth of Houston.

Bun B.

Headliner Propain, he of the single “Say I Won’t” had the night’s most inventive set, compiling songs from his own Departure mixtape, his upcoming Dangerous Minds tape & his most notable singles. When Bun B emerged for the “Say I Won’t Remix”, the crowd erupted. Short Dawg let Pro snap on “H-Town” sans Z-Ro but Pro didn’t need him for this go round.

Pro’s legitimacy as an emcee is never in question. His cadence & presence are noticed the moment he starts a verse and when he goes into an insane double-time, he’s a flat out star. For those who left, the moment of the night belonged to the “June 27th Tribute” with Kirko Bangz (he was there), L.E.$. (him there too) and the Hiram Clarke native bringing out Yungstar to further pay tribute to the song.

Yes, Yungstar.

Word for word, the crowd joined the Throwed Yung Playa in reciting his verse, almost as if they were raised off of it. Made a few people go nostalgic, made others nearly weep but it was indeed a moment. Pro wasn’t the only act with definite potential for larger venues as headliners given the crowd’s reaction:

–          DeAndre Wright who utilized a live band albeit with a terrible soundman (actually, everybody’s sound was a little off) by belting out pop vocals with enough oomph to have the men in attendance feint proposals.

–          Dante Higgins (even though he wasn’t originally on the bill) became the first artist who had a crowd full of supporters and fans. The J. Cole comparisons are easy to recognize, especially when the Third Ward reside beats up Cole’s chest thumping “Blow Up” as if it were his own. Having Alicia James intro him in the vein of Marian Anderson felt sort of cryptic but played well into the proceedings.

–          Freeman, for all of his collab work of the night had an interesting set himself. Clad in slacks, tie & black sunglasses, the singer touched on two of Dark Liquor’s standout cuts including “Figure It Out” before being joined by Yves Saint of The Niceguys to perform his latest single “Lynnie’s World”.

Delo, who still maintains the title of having the city’s best release in Hood Politics Vol. 2 did things all his own. He came out as if he were hidden, blitzed through an enjoyable set with songs for every demographic. The hustlers had their moment on “Back Up In My City”, the aggravated had their track with the heavy metal tinged “One Shot” and the fiery intro of “Aaaaaaaggggghhhhhhh”, a set worthy of Kyleon’s praise: “They gon’ hang that nigga’s jersey up at Minute Maid.”

On a show of ten plus, we would be remiss to mention the following:

–          Hoodstar Chantz oozed charisma, even letting one of his female fans (one of the four in the front of the stage) join him on stage and damn near out rap him during one portion. May have been the chick with the shoulder pads, can’t recall.

–          O.N.E. set it off with a punchline heavy set including his “Get It Right This Time” single. Points to him for mentioning Danica Patrick in a few bars.

–          Eskabel paid tribute to Watch The Throne with his freestyle of “Otis”. The Black Shark at times seemed like he wanted to be heard, hungry enough to eat the mic as he couldn’t help but bark out his verses.

–          Preemo, Houston’s version of the supremely talented migrant (his two releases in recent memory are stellar) maximized on his time with a set similar to a young EPMD. Pree dominated the lyrics of course but his hypeman did a solid job echoing his energy.

The Setlist: Unless you’ve lived under a rock – every notable H-Town song by a local artist was performed.

Crowd Quotables:  “Jordans & Jesus are better than pussy!” – GOMC J Stone in a conversation with Imani Rose after the show. A great second place goes to Delo who on stage said the first original “if you _______, make some noise” ever by quoting “If you’ve never sold your soul to the devil, make some noise.”

Notable Faces In The Crowd: Slim Thug, Bun B (it was his day after all), OG Ron C, Imani Rose & more. We were also discouraged to know that the Kreayshawn look of having a patch of hair dyed blonde amongst a midst of black hair was common amongst the ladies in attendance. We wanted to immediately go home and pray to the Heavens that she (and that look) go away.

Recommend For Future Events: Everyone on the bill has a genuine fan base. Definitely would be great to see these acts get the same type of response outside of the city. Also, any time you’re in a public venue and you hear “Niggas In Paris”, you’re commanded to do whatever. It’s that cray.