Monday night fans, internet illuminatis, fashion models and The Falcon all gathered in a turned (turnt?) out gallery space in Chelsea to see phase two of TDE in 2013. Hosted by Missinfo, Fader and Vitamin Water continued their summer-long run of Uncapped shows with Schoolboy Q and the freshly signed SZA. With both artists prepping fourth quarter releases, Q's mythic Oxymoron and the SZA's TDE coming out Z-EP, it was an opportune time to see what they were cooking with.
Dubbed as the "First Lady of TDE" at the top of the show, SZA came out and meekly gave the crowd a "Hiii guys" before stepping into the first song. Before the show, call it an whirlwind work schedule or call it jitters, she told me "I don't have an appetite when I have anxiety. Literally today, like day three or day four I haven't eaten. I dunno, I'm learning how to balance that first and then I'll learn to balance (other things like) Twitter." If you saw the show, you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. When twinkles on the intro of her first song ("Ice Moon") rolled in, the switch was immediately flipped; her steely voice cut through the booming snare rolls and bass behind her on the speakers, really shining through. With just a DJ and a Dapwell-ian looking dude on the keys, they accented the performance just enough stirring it up and dropping out at the right moments to showcase her vocals.
With the wave of recent success and attention drawn to her that comes with this career, she seems to have a refreshingly grounded perspective on it all. Asking how things have changed for her from now to this point last year she says "I'm not homeless. And I have clothes. Other than that? Honestly just like, choices for once... like choosing producers and really growing. It's a head trip for sure." She commanded attention as she rocked her hips to the beat, taking care to clearly sing every note and word, SZA showed why she was the first woman and the first singer signed to the running-est crew in the game right now.
Q was the headliner for the night, coming on almost immediately after SZA's set ended. Bucket hat on deck and sunglasses low, a particularly blunted Q came out to the all too fitting "BETiGOTSUMWEED." His set was off though, hampered by the apparent "no cursing" rule put forth by the powers that be (the gallery? Vitamin Water? Mr. Coca Cola himself?). It was like watching Eastbound & Down without Kenny Powers or Game of Thrones without the head-lopping and prostitutes: it just isn't the same.
The proceedings of a Schoolboy Q show have been extolled here before, so if you want to read about a hyper, click on that guy above. His set has remained virtually unchanged from a year ago; the fatigue of playing the same 10 songs on the road day in and day out has seemingly set in. You can tell because when he launched into the two warm-up singles off the album, "Yay Yay" and "Collard Greens", he was definitely rapping extra harder and really jumping back and forth across the stage. With the latter, Kendrick hopped on stage with him to rap his machine gun Spanglish verse and gave everyone the rarest of opportunities to see the two of them do the full song live together (the video is below).
The number one, most ultra level takeaway of the night though? Oxymoron is entirely finished and fully turned into the label. He spoke after the show with Missinfo that sample clearances and him just holding onto it forever have been the reasoning behind the delay. Q evoked the album in the same linage as Doggystyle, All Eyez On Me, Kurupt, and Tha Dogg Pound, explaining that this is the next step of all those west coast rap classics. No dates were given just yet, but it's safe to say that the Yawk will be in our hands soon enough.
Video: "Collard Greens" (feat. Kendrick Lamar)