Published Jul 03, 2012Considering his choice of profession, Killer Mike is a confusing figure. The portly Atlanta gentleman is a performer, yet he's so out of shape that he can't do his job all that effectively, not that he attempts the kind of cerebral tongue twisters that would make him the Babe Ruth of rap anyway.
Mike drops words out of his flow here and there when he runs out of breath, which wouldn't be such a big deal if there was anything more to his show than just him and a hype man hitting play on a laptop. The chest-thumping sausage party didn't seem to mind, though, as they enthusiastically chanted "I never scared" and "fuck Ronald Reagan" on cue, throwing middle fingers up and bobbing to Mike's retro '90s political pimp flow and heavy beats.
During Killer Mike's set, El-P hit the stage for his "Butane" verse, and it was instantly clear who was the bigger dawg. Born Jaime Meline, El-P is a machine on the mic, spitting rapid-fire rhymes for the end of the world. Meline looks as if he could get hit by a tree and not miss a syllable. Plus, he produced everything on Mike's recent and highest charting album R.A.P. Music, so without him, Mike would have even less of a show.
When it came time for El-P's set, the musical ante was upped considerably. Coming out to William Burroughs storming the studio -- the big beat intro to his latest record Cancer for Cure -- Meline had one guy on keys and Moog, adding melodies and the odd solo, as well as a bearded dude in front of a laptop with a guitar, cymbal, bongos and other gadgets.
Overcoming early monitor problems and consistent hum, the beats they made were so massive that they were as clearly audible in the washroom as anywhere else in the club, while their little live flourishes and touches kept the music fresh and in the moment. Killer Mike returned as El Producto's hype man for much of his set, which further reinforced the fact that P wields a far more controlled and powerful flow.