Ed. note – We Are Regal Radio continues its coverage into the culture of Chicago, with the series “Regal Night Out.” Here, David Evans builds again with one of the realest out of Detroit. Stay with WARR for more “Night Out” stories, including one on this weekend’s 4th Anniversary celebration at the Shrine.
By David Evans, Regal Radio
For the second time in just over a month, Detroit emcee Guilty Simpson performed in Chicago, this time as the headliner of a show at the Double Door in Wicker Park, along for the ride were local artists Impolite Society, Rita J and Cysion. Collective DJ’s Cutz on Cutz held down the turntables that night, spinning a wide range of hip hop hits during the show.
The crowd at the Double Door was a diverse one, comprised of Milwaukee Avenue bar crawlers, the after work group, still wearing their button down shirts and khakis, couples out on dates and and a few dozen hip hop devotees who were unlikely to miss any reasonably priced show on a Friday.
Showing up early before the crowed began to fill up the upstairs half of the venue (the lower lounge area seemed like the place to be prior to performances), one could still see some willing party-starting participants: the most memorable among them being a blond white guy in sunglasses grinding on his unreceptive female companion. A couple Hispanic guys rocked out to the sounds of initial opener Impolite Society (a group who up until that night, I had never heard of). Later, in a bit of rhythmic dissonance when Simpson got on, two young ladies at the front of the stage danced seductively to the hardcore raps of Simpson, one unwittingly placed her purse on the floor in a pool of spilled beer.
Waiting for the show to begin, my editor, Kyle Means, and I had the opportunity to build with “Dirty,” publisher of Chicago Hustles magazine while downstairs. We had an enlightening conversation about our respective vocations, backgrounds, views on religion, politics and music. Check out Dirty and Chicago Hustles for another, deeper view of a side of the Chi you don’t see often.
The night’s show began just before midnight with opening act Impolite Society. Comprised of ELEE X, Blakkass Westley, Fess Grandiose, Khalfani and Sidewalk Kala, IS was a group of young dreadlocked men whose rap style can be described as Wu-Tang meets Odd Future with a lot of Chicago flavor on top. One of the members of the group sported a cast on what looked to be a broken wrist. One highlight was their first song, “Player Shit,” which lifted the hook to the Teddy Pendergrass classic “Close The Door,” mainly it was a highlight because it was one of the only cuts I could understand. Unfortunately, the sound of IS’s production overpowered their singing, which made their punk rock-esque yelling incoherent for most of their performance. The only other song I could hear over the din of the speakers was entitled “Fuck Your Couch,” which they shouted frequently over the loud bass in the song.
Chicago-based emcee Rita J, known member of the All Natural Crew gave an excellent performance, second only to Simpson’s. Rita’s performance of “I’m Sick and Tired” moved the crowd, as its universal tale of working a job you hate to pay the bills seemed to resonate with many who likely came to the Double Door from such a job.
Rita’s lyricism can be compared to that of female contemporaries Rapsody, Jean Grae or the legend MC Lyte — fast, witty and full of sharp banter. Also standing out in Rita’s too-short set was “The Dough,” replete with classic hip-hop samples, and “Hey Now.”
Detroit transplant Cysion came on right after Rita J (little time was wasted at this show once the rappers got going). Tall, cornrowed and wearing O.G. shades, Cysion rocked the electronic and bouncy “Get Down,” “D.O.P.E.” and “Fresh off the Super Grind” during his set.
Guilty performed a forty minute set after first walking unassumingly on the stage to rock a song with Cysion and Rita J. Performing hits off catalog highlights Ode to the Ghetto, O.J. Simpson, Random Axe and Dice Game, Simpson rocked a trench coat, baseball cap, white button down and jeans. As a performer, Simpson always prefers to draw attention naturally through the power of his voice and his music, you’re not gonna be tricked into liking him.
The small, yet impassioned crowd at the Double Door were all the way in with Guilty, whose lyrics to bangers like “Addicted to the Game” tell you all you need to know about him — “I don’t do any radio shit, only hip hop shit.” Simpson moved on to a spirited performance of “The Cook Up,” off of last year’s Dice Game, a full-length collab with Detroit producer Apollo Brown. “One Man,” also from that album, was another standout. Simpson’s performance of “My Moment,” off Ode was definitely a moment for those who really rode for Guilty and it got some of the most crowd participation. “Robbery,” which Simpson finished acapella, did the same before the beat dropped. From Ode, Guilty effortlessly transitioned into O.J.‘s “Mic Check 313,” another crowd pleaser.
Poignantly, Guilty paused halfway through the show to make a P.S.A., though he might have been preaching to the choir. Still, Simpson told the stated his distaste for age discrimination in hip-hop. “In fact,” Guilty said, ” many old niggas can rap better than these young ones.”
Evident by Simpson’s performance Friday night, truer words were never spoken.
After the show, Kyle and I got the opportunity to talk briefly with Simpson. Guilty still made time with folks afterwards despite having all intentions to make his way to a red eye flight back to Detroit, possibly to prepare for his performance at Soundset 2013 in Minnesota the next day. Humble and down to earth, Simpson gave us with his contact info for the possibility of a future interview, Guilty sounded particularly interested in building on sports issues (sorry bout the Wings, Guilt). Stay with WARR for an update.
Follow David on Twitter @davidevans9 and Regal Radio @regalradio1