"Staples says it might be hard for the largely white crowd to relate to some of his lyrics — he'll try not to make us have to sing the N-word too much."
DJ Classic welcomes the earlybirds with some current hip hop hits before Sydney MC B Wise makes his way on stage. Delivering his groove-laden, laid-back style of hip hop, he warms up the growing crowd. A few of us aren't so sure about his banter though, as he gives off 'cool teacher' vibes, asking us to turn to a stranger and say 'wassup' so that we're all friends and can party together: "We don't want it to be awkward." Too late? Nonetheless the crowd's getting well into Wise and Classic's "vibe and bounce". B Wise says they need bodies up the front for the next song, highlight and recent single Lately, and people oblige, yelling out the "REAL SHIT" response with gusto.
Melodic metal plays over the speakers in the intermission for some reason. Looking around the young crowd, there are more caps than we've ever seen at an inside gig, and a lot of blokes taking group selfies.
Eventually Ramona Park Legend, Pt 1, the instrumental opener to Vince Staples' debut album Summertime '06, begins playing, Westside Ty on the decks. Staples emerges on stage, jumping into Lift Me Up. The set is mostly highlights from Summertime '06, with a few old favourites such as 65 Hunnid thrown in, and Staples, it turns out, is quite the talker — and pretty bloody funny. The 22-year-old oozes charisma and has everyone totally on-side from the get-go.
"I don't care if you don't know the words, just go crazy," he says before launching into Birds & Bees. You can almost taste the crowd's adrenaline — or is that sweat? It's a sauna on the dance floor — as bodies flail and arms sway. The crowd does know a lot of the words, the volume of our shouts rising above the tracks. Staples says it might be hard for the largely white crowd to relate to some of his lyrics — he'll try not to make us have to sing the N-word too much — but he in turn probably couldn't relate to many of us: "I never really had a scone," he says as an example. He continues to playfully mock the whiteys throughout the set — but underpinning his teasing is this unapologetic pride in his African American heritage. At one point a shirtless bro crowdsurfs his way on stage and is stared down by Staples before the security guard shoves him back into the moshpit. Staples would later tweet a photo of that glorious moment, captioning it, "Don't jump on the black man's stage."
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One thing we can all relate to, presumably, is liking money. "Make some noise if you're broke tonight!" Staples says, dedicating Get Paid to those in want of pennies. Noticing the male skew in the audience, Staples dedicates Loca to the few ladies present. A fight almost breaks out in the middle of the mosh, due to some dickheads who've been trying to start a mini circle pit (why?), and Staples notices and commands everyone to throw up some shakas instead. Peace is restored; violence averted.
There's a dip in energy as Staples takes a little time out for a couple of songs, resorting to using the mic stand instead of bounding all over the stage — "We gotta slow down 'cause I got asthma" — and it's especially noticeable in Jump Off The Roof; the crowd has been feeding off Staples' enthusiasm, doing whatever he does. Thankfully the breather does him a world of good and he spits his rhymes harder than ever to finish the set, ending with the killer Norf Norf and Blue Suede. Right after the show, Staples tweets, "Melbourne I love you" and it's safe to assume the sold out crowd reciprocated those feelings.