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On Friday night, in a low-key venue off downtown, Bourbon Street held court in Houston.

New Orleans-raised and Houston-residing emcee Hot Peez hosted his “White Hall: Unplugged” concert on November 6th at EastDown Warehouse, a half-bar/half-concert venue tucked on the corner of Nance Street. EastDown isn’t the kind of place that stands out. In fact, were it not for the lights, the “White Hall” posters plastered everywhere, and the cars parked in its small lot and on the adjacent streets, EastDown Warehouse might have been overlooked. It’s crazy to imagine that such a modest spot would bear so much magic.

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And yet, magic DID happen.

EastDown retained a modest crowd until about 9:45 or so, with GoDJ CrowdPleaseHer and DJ 4 OZ keeping the gathering audience moving along with tunes prior to. Lots of familiar local faces came out to support Hot Peez, as well. TheCore94! was in the building, as were OneHunnidt, Broderick B, and more. At about 10 PM, local comedian Shabaz “Playtime” Ward finally grabbed the mic, welcomed all visitors, and began introducing the opening acts.

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Yung Serg kicked things off, enlivening the growing crowd with his set. He was followed by rapper-producer George Young, who revisited his lauded Ventage EP from last year and proceeded to perform some of its most notable cuts – including the unofficial Houston Texans anthem “City Under Siege” – while adorned in an Astros jersey. Young even brought Reginald Ghonson and KAB Tha Don onstage to join him; if “Simple” off Ventage is just a taste of what Young and KAB can do when united, seeing the two-headed monster live took the energy to a whole new level.

Big Fatts was the next onstage, the rapper utilizing his token humor throughout his set and cracking jokes between songs. Fatts went back to his Snackin’ 4 Beats mixtape, reviving his “Pound Cake” freestyle and rapping like a man possessed when he performed his “Devil is A Lie (Freestyle).” Then, certified feature killer Rob Gullatte – who could be seen lurking in the crowd earlier – found himself sitting onstage towards the end of Fatts’ set. Though it looked, initially, like Gullatte was just there to ad-lib, Fatts soon launched into “Know No Good” and Gullatte hopped up and demolished his feature without losing a breath.

Whiski Asadi and the Syrup Gang wrapped up the opening acts. The latter was more the recognizable of the two, with the self-anointed “Gang” proudly representing in black tees bearing “$YRUP GANG” emblazoned in gold lettering across the front. The acts enlivened what was then starting to be a slightly restless crowd. Asadi – who appears on White Hall by way of “No Cowards” – was just as energetic, as well. For those in attendance who had been unfamiliar with either prior to entering EastDown Warehouse (aka me), rest assured that Friday night, both Whiski and the Syrup Gang acquired their attention and gained a ton of new fans.

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After an intermission of sorts, the live band began setting up shop and Peez – who had spent the early part of the night posted up against the wall and greeting attendees – bumrushed the stage as the band launched into “Loophole.” White Hall, as a project, is a mix of trunk thumpers and softer fare. The drawing factor for many in the crowd was simply wondering how adding live instrumentation might change the album as a whole.

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Peez is definitely a product of his environment. His band singlehandedly gave every single one of the album’s twelve tracks a sort of Louisiana flavor that could only be experienced live. It FELT like being on Bourbon Street. “Go Get Her,” which sounds like country rap on the album, turned into a zydeco groove with a live band. “Holding It Down” got a new life by way of Peez’s drummer, and the crowd got into it with a quickness. “Cherish” was damn near bounce music.

The energy simply never fell from the moment Peez came onstage. He performed with a sense of urgency and, yet, seemed to enjoy himself that the crowd couldn’t help but enjoy themselves as well. He invited Porsche Nine onstage for “Be Great” and the two didn’t just rap and play off of each other; they two-stepped the whole time.

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Hot Peez also had Simone Skye on hand as his female vocalist. Prior to Friday night, I had been largely unfamiliar with singer-songwriter Skye, who’s quietly built a following as much for rapping as she has for her singing. It was Skye’s vocals, her adding melody in the background of “I Been Known,” for example, and taking the place of Ashlyn on “Think About Us,” that made White Hall’s more emotional sounds, cut even deeper. She turned “Be With You” into an even more of a rip-your-heart-out single, and Skye will almost certainly see her fanbase grow as a result of “White Hall: Unplugged.”

But the biggest takeaway from “White Hall: Unplugged” may not even be the music (though, Hot Peez should give SERIOUS consideration to re-releasing White Hall as an “in concert” LP), but the artist himself. For someone whose raps can be quite braggadocios, Peez is extremely humble. He literally thanked the crowd no fewer than seven times over the course of his set, and insisted that he was blessed by the support. Though not altogether uncommon, it was refreshing to hear Hot Peez make his audience feel important just for being there. Peez should pat himself on the back, for drawing such an exceptional crowd in spite of potential weather concerns.

Yes, for one night, Bourbon Street was recreated in Houston, Texas. And “White Hall: Unplugged” was nothing short of pure gold.

An earlier version of this review erroneously neglected to mention the performances of Whiski Asadi and The Syrup Gang as opening acts. The author regrets the error.

5 Responses

  1. DJ 4 OZ

    I’m confused how SyrupGang was left out of your blog when we brought half the crowd?? I’m confused. Could you help us understand??

    Reply

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