Earlier in the week, we declared that Iamsu!'s sound "may very well be some of the funnest hip-hop to listen to right now." Clearly, then, our enthusiasm was about to spill out onto our keyboards when we saw his name booked to perform alongside LA's Problem (who is apparently awesome to be around and whose company offers experiences of a lifetime according to our sister paper, LA Weekly) at our favorite local place-to-see-rap, The Observatory. Ninety-nine percent of the time, a Wednesday night does not end in witnessing two crowned sentinels of party music recreate the celebratory subject matter of their songs. At best, our Wednesday night out and about means a dinosaur age rock band or a newer indie band that takes themselves too seriously. It's a tragedy, really.
Iamsu! & Problem came out to the introductory volley of "MDA" and their parts on E-40's "Function," and from then on out proceeded to flip the Observatory into their own private bash. It went from being a beloved Orange County venue to the party-house that Iamsu! & Problem built. Despite the unusually-underpacked audience, the entire place looked as if the old hyphy scene was being resurrected live.
*Iamsu! Makes Party Rap With a Purpose
The two West Coasters put on one of those performances where exact songs didn't really stand out so much as the entire act did. Songs like "Who Booty," "Up!" and "Gas Pedal" perked ears and eyes and brought on more of those "oh I love that one" moments that classics seem to bring on, but it was the type of outing where the overall vibe and atmosphere was just something you bask in and lose your mind to. It's like going to a friend's party who just so happened to break the bank and hire the best DJ acts around the area. You don't necessarily pay laser-precise attention to every single verse and song you hear, but you definitely enjoy and love everything that's going on around you.
Unlike other shows where the openers give us headaches and ensure a couple hours of wandering thoughts and uneasy, irritated shifts in posture, the countless acts booked last night to open were solid choices if only because they offered a sort of compare-and-contrast with which to look at Iamsu! & Problem's set. The opening acts carried mostly similiar sounds to the productions of our two beloved California afro-men, with everything to the drum patterns and snaps to the please-be-catchy chrouses and hooks sounding like they've taken season-long courses on the craft of party-rap taught by last night's headliners.
Something was missing from the opening sets though, and it wasn't until Iamsu! & Problem took the stage that anyone could realize it. It was polish. Iamsu! and Problem have the polish necessary to make more lighthearted hip-hop great. The calculation that Iamsu! spoke to us about in our interview was present in its finest form. You would assume both artists would have several decades of tenure in music between them by seeing them cavort across the stage and witness their barely-break-a-sweat vitality. They are professionals, and we're not talking about Justin Timberlake "Suit & Tie" types. These are the type of artists that can set ablaze to any audience at the drop of a dime. If these two keep it up, Iamsu! and Problem will be producing classic tracks for years to come and will have a home at any stage, regardless of setting.
Critic's Bias: I can't get "Suzy 6 Speed" or "Kilt" out of constant rotation. Iamsu! knows my taste.
Random Notebook Dump: We know it's a Wednesday, but a couple hours after doors open and parking is still readily available? Odd. We thought these two would pack the Observatory to the brim.
The Crowd: Apparently, it was mostly people who had no qualms or shame about doing any older style of bay-area/hyphy/half-jerking dance in public. Good for them.