Rouge’s live rap show’s so dope, it threatens to eclipse her ill raps. When on the mic she’s in control, focused, with the promise to get progressively better, from one song to the next.
It’s why it was mandatory to attend her debut album launch on Friday, at a venue whose name suggests exercising a degree of cautiousness when going to it.
The Good Luck Bar is a bad venue. The soundman, the open plan area, the lack of soundproofing; all these variables conspire at odd intervals, resulting in a generally bad experience, but only if you’re there purely for the music.
But this was a special occasion.
The New Era Sessions packs punches aplenty, as I discovered upon listening to it on-line. Punches need bodies to land upon, and I was willing to risk it all; to make myself the sacrificial set of slaapchips that didn’t get the right balance of salt and vinegar.
Rouge invited friends to celebrate with her.
Solo, backed by his BETR Gang homies Al da 3rd, Solid the Gifted and Thandodot kickstarted the live performance segment of the night. Their set was out of place in a venue possessing nil by way of catering for people who are there for the music. Working microphones that don’t cut mid-set can be a great start.
Solo’s a lyrical emcee, and a storyteller. I’d be a better human, were I to experience his show in a setting other than a warehouse. But that’s expecting too much, and his was only a supporting slot.
Stilo Magolide performed songs from his newly-released Tropicana Jiiig album to a mild reception.
Shekinah did “Back to the beach” and “On it” and “Let you know”, and people ate it up while she finished us all off with her tribute to an OG when she rapped Snoop (Doggy) Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” bar-for-bar.
Big Star Johnson was cool, and Ms. Cosmo DJ’s set brought impressive dance moves on the floor. The night felt as though it had dragged by the time Rouge got onto the stage.
A fast-food mission to the chips joint outside with the partner meant that I got to miss Mgarimbe and Moozlie’s sets.
Rouge held tight. She jumped, she controlled her breath, she climbed all the vocal registers (she’s been a singer longer than she’s been a rapper), she cried and gave a shout-out to her parents, she rapped atop familiar chords courtesy of her keyboardist; man, she did the things!