New Rap Royalty: Killer Mike, El-P, Mr. Mf'n eXquire & Despot
I was beyond excited and just a little nervous as I made the 30-second walk from the booth to the live room for this session in the KEXP studios. Usually, these things happen with one artist, but tonight I'd corral a round-robin of five MCs, a couple of whom were behind some of my favorite hip-hop of all time. Between the MCs, the DJs, the hype men and the keyboardists (not to mention KEXP's photographers and videographers), there were a dozen people waiting at the end of the hall. I got off to a fabulous start by mispronouncing Despot's name — it's DES-PAWT, not DES-PIT — but the resulting laughter seemed to let some of the awkwardness out of the proceedings.
Mr. Mf'n eXquire and his hype man, not used to censoring themselves, stumbled and laughed through a good bit of "Huzzah," which made the line "I f----d up on purpose" even funnier than usual. The veteran Killer Mike — a self-described "black elephant," first introduced to the world on OutKast's Stankonia — was naturally commanding and at ease, especially when big-upping his collaborator, underground legend El-P. And El-P's bone-dry wit and Philip K. Dick-esque storytelling in "Works Every Time" took us on out on a brilliant note.
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