In great anticipation of tonight, when the Sneaker Pimps Tour rolls into town with Clipse, Slick Rick, and a slew of talented local hip-hop, I checked out the show two weeks ago when it came through San Francisco. While the openers were less than engaging, and it was held at a venue roughly the size of The High Dive (as opposed to the Seattle show, which will be at the Showbox), I feel I got an essential handle on what the experience will be like tonight.
Sneaker Pimps touts itself as "the largest sneaker snow in the world," which for their purposes means they display artist-customized shoes on chain-link fence and have a section where you can "buy/sell/trade" your kicks. There will also be a streaming text message feed displayed on an enormous screen above the stage, where you can send in shoutouts or musings to be published on site. The flashy features emphasize the corporate sponsorship that underwrites this tour, and also reveals its intent to draw in teenagers attending less for the music and more for the fad.
Seattle stalwarts Massive Monkees were just added to the tour, which is an exciting new element to an already packed local lineup. It will be THEESatisfaction's very last Seattle show before moving to the Bay Area, and an opportunity to check out Grynch (who was featured in Billboard Magazine two weeks ago), GMK (the Song for Bloggers MC that will soon relocate to LA), and Steelo (the R&B/rap duo that is the first local act I've heard to use autotune sincerely). They Live!, who has been opening on the Sneaker Pimps tour across the country this summer, will bring their steezy raps; furthermore, Them Team, a co-ed collective of b-boys and girls from various crews around Seattle, will be putting their sneakers to good use. So with two breaking crews and five musical acts all from Seattle taking the stage tonight, this should be an excellent showcase of the breadth and promise of our local hip-hop scene.
Unfortunately, Slick Rick, the legendary eye-patched and oft-emulated rapper, was not on the San Francisco lineup. However, preventing any bad occurrences, I can safely report that Clipse will be as great as you were hoping they'd be. To be honest, I didn't get my hopes up about their live show, since the last time I saw an admitted coke-lovin' rapper perform (Wale), it was a great disappointment. But now, seventeen years in and on the cusp of their third full-length Till The Casket Drops, Clipse assumed the stage like sophisticated veterans, laid-back and fully engaged. Their set list was excellent and comprehensive, from brand new songs "I'm Good" and "Kinda Like A Big Deal" to older favorites like "Grindin'," "Chinese New Year," "We Got It For Cheap," "Mr. Me Too" and "What Happened To That Boy?"
But strangely enough, Clipse will not swear. Rumor has it that because Verison Wireless is one of the sponsors of Sneaker Pimps, the caveat was a Clear Channel-approved set, which may seem inconceivable for those familiar with Clipse's lyrical content. Regardless, despite the silly filler words that replaced the "bad" ones, you'll leave the concert satisfied and hopeful for the state of hip-hop locally and beyond.