Live at Capitol Hill Block Party: Mad Rad

photo by Brittney Bush Bollay

Fresh Espresso MC and vocoding maniac P Smoov joined fellow rappers Buffalo Madonna and Terry Radjaw along with de facto hypeman DJ Darwin for a fun-filled set on the main stage on a sweltering Seattle Sunday afternoon. Mad Rad, one of the city’s most notorious live groups, everyone expected to cause incessant mayhem. Naturally, the dressed to impress Seattle hip-hop collective spent their entire set successfully pumping up the early bird block party crowd for the remaining shenanigans of Day 3. Born performers, each of Mad Rad’s members harnessed their individual insanity to blossom a goofy, derogatory and pleasurably juvenile concert.

While most people may think of the politically conscious and classy Blue Scholars or Common Market when angling for a fleeting description of Seattle hip-hop, Mad Rad depict quite the opposite. Owing their lyrical and rhythmic steez to the classic electro party hop sounds of 2 Live Crew or Tag Team, they proved a smarter choice for main stage action during the late afternoon compared to the painstakingly tame early shows of the previous two days. The under 21 show goers all seemed grateful for one of the first lively shows on the main stage. They tossed flatbread from the stage like wigged out frat boys throwing frisbees, incessantly sprayed their water bottles and pranced around flashing their absurd semi-formal garb. Almost every lyric was screamed -- especially the vulgar ones. Predictably, the crowd ate it all up, dancing, jumping and maniacally yelling back at Mad Rad in a muddled frenzy.

The group debuted new material and ran through local favorites like “My Product”, each generating increasingly hyperactive audience buzz and energy. Many of these tracks sounded similar; each involved a typical 808 booty bass beat, staccato electro synth and the occasional vocoded hook but the boys made the most of it. A few gimmicks maintained interest such as the cello player that doubled as a hype woman--she knew punch line and screamed them all, instrument and bow in hand -- and Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band’s guitarist adding a live edge. Throughout the entire show, however, it was clear that despite these added bonuses, the true beauty of their performance grew from simple phrases that everyone loves to shout (see “Blood” for a truly great one: “Don’t want your love! / Just want your blood!”). This wasn’t a show for music heads, it was a show for the party people.

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