It’s worth beginning this review with a minor but important admission: I don’t really “get” rap. I definitely enjoy it, but I don’t really have a thorough musical understanding of it. As a result, when I went to see Mr. Mothafuckin’ eXquire Friday night at Eclectic, I didn’t go in with any expectations at all. I didn’t think he was going to be bad, I just simply had never heard of him (and I’m not too hipster to admit it). What I experienced over the rest of the evening was what I could confidently call the best show I have attended at Eclectic in my time here, with the possible exception of Wye Oak (sorry).
For those of you who are, like me, unfamiliar with Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, he is a Brooklyn-based rapper. Crown Heights—specifically. A former parking attendant, he has traveled far away from the garage to release one album (Lost in Translation), a mixtape (Merry Ex-Mas & Suck My Dick), and is poised to drop another album this summer. Additionally, he has appeared on tracks with the likes of Das Racist emcee Heems ’07, former Bronx chef Action Bronson, and cartoon-voiced Detroit rapper Danny Brown. That’s not surprising, since eXquire’s MO is group performance, and he was accompanied by eight other rappers at Eclectic. He recently signed to Universal Republic Records and performed an impressive 18 shows at SXSW. Describing his career, eXquire wrote, “What an ill fuckin journey this year has been for me, when that New Years Ball dropped I would have never thought I’d be on TV, Magazine’s, Websites, and all this shit… man 9 months ago I was in a fucking small ass booth checking parking tickets, now I’m a starving artist… shit fuck’s [sic] my head up. I just be wanting to stop right here cuz I never thought I’d make it this far. Too late now tho, I told my nigga Trax once ‘We gotta make money now, cause we can’t get no broker!’”
The energy that’s so apparent in that quote is exactly the sort of verve that eXquire brought with him to Eclectic this past weekend. As the room flared with pink, purple, and red lights, eXquire moved nimbly about the stage, rapping with an engaging but not unsettling intensity, presenting each line with pride. That self-confidence, in and of itself, electrified each of his songs.
While most of his lyrics were generically aggressive, a few songs benefited from slower, more ambient beats, reminiscent of Kid Cudi or Lupe Fiasco. Whenever this happened, eXquire gleefully punctured the soundscapes with rhymes, ensuring that none of the songs got trapped in predictable rhythm.
For the entirety of the show, eXquire kept his audience lively and engaged, maintaining a pretty full house during the entire performance. And never once did that house quiet. Constantly ablaze with the excitement of both the crowd and eXquire, Eclectic found itself particularly enlivened during the show, shaking with thunderous beats and boastful lyrics so that the entire house rumbled like a volcano.
Never once did eXquire let up and, as a result, never once did the show die down. I may not know rap, but I know what I like, and I loved Mr. Mothafuckin’ eXquire.