All corners of the continent are being repped by their hip-hop ambassadors these next couple of weeks. First up is California, with underground stalwarts Aceyalone and 2Mex’s L.A.’s Finest tour at Beauty Bar on June 4. The name of the tour isn’t hyperbole. Both have decades in the game, having come out of the Project Blowed collective in the ’90s. 2Mex, a versatile wordsmith who bleeds raw emotion, was just here in February to headline Civilian’s Sunday Riots, but it’s been a minute since I’ve caught Aceyalone. A member of fast-rapping groups Freestyle Fellowship and Haiku D’Etat, Acey’s first solo album, All Balls Don’t Bounce in 1995, was a fun, playful and inventive alternative in the era of gangster rap. Still a lyrical furnace and still as creative as ever, his 11th album, Action, dropped in April featuring bass-heavy, dub step-y beats by Bionik. In between, Aceyalone’s put out records inspired by doo-wop and dancehall, so expect some wild-styled diversity at the show. Local boys Late for Dinner, who celebrate the release of their new album, Leaving Las Vegas, open.
Yelawolf brings his backwoods gumbo of fast-rap, country and rock to Brooklyn Bowl on June 12. When I first/last saw the Alabama rapper at SXSW in 2010, he was all energy, spitting fierce bars with his Southern drawl. He’s since gotten deeper into his redneck roots. Love Story, his second album under Eminem’s Shady Records, has some very Kid Rock moments, but he can still rhyme at the speed of Twista when the occasion calls for it. While I definitely want to hear older cuts such as “Pop the Trunk” and every version of “Box Chevy,” I can get down to his creek water weirdness, too. I wonder what “Fiddle Me This”—a barnyard meets Beat Street stew of violins and scratches—will sound like live.
Lupe Fiasco holds it down for Chicago over at House of Blues the same night. If you’ve got more political leanings, this one’s the obvious choice. Bold on and off the mic (I can’t keep up with his Twitter beefs), his recent Tetsuo & Youth is lyrically dense, thick with double entendres and social commentary. But let’s not forget that his catalog is stocked with commercial hits, so if the eight-minute-plus marathons of “Prisoner 1 &2” and “Mural” are too much to take in, he’s got “Superstar” and “Out of My Head” to balance it out.
Batting for Brooklyn is Necro at LVCS on June 17. Obsessed with violence (and porn), the purveyor of “death rap” is grim, obscene and, at times, comical. You can’t help but laugh when you hear him rapping “I Need Drugs” to the tune of LL Cool J’s sensitive “I Need Love.” His shows are known to get rowdy—mosh pits, drunk chicks flashing, him knocking dudes out onstage and, in at least one occasion, a riot. Now that I think about it, I’m sitting this one out.