So, my son Ben mentions to me that J-Kwon is appearing at the Pageant. This University City Loup venue is the scene of the Ludacris performance a few months ago. Rap (or should I say Hip-Hop) is a cultural phenomenon and I have to say that I enjoy a lot of things about it. For my generation “Sex, Drugs. and Rock-N-Roll” was the rally cry. For my son, it’s not too different…only louder, and blacker and with no interference from musical instruments (just pre-recorded sound and one or two DJ-MC types behind a big electronic console in the middle of the stage).
J-Kwon was to be a part of Hoodfest. Which I didn’t understand, until attending the event, was a string of local wanna-be acts leading up to the featured performers. And as St. Louis (The Lou) has become somewhat of a hub for Hip Hop. Murphy Lee and Ally were listed as hosts/presenters. And local hip hop hero, Nelly even made an appearance.
The station Q95.5 had a high profile throughout the evening with MC Chrystal on the mike between acts doing the introductions – usually nothing more than something like “Hey St. Louis, give it up for our next performers….”
I bought three tickets. This event was held on May 9, 2004, a Sunday Night. Ben and his friend Stephanie Paul were probably willing to tolerate me a chaperone because I made it easier for Ben’s mom and Stephanie’s parents to allow this on a school night.
Stephanie, Ben and I arrived at the Pageant and hour before the scheduled start time. (What was I thinking…of course Hoodfest wouldn’t start on time. And there was no real benefit to arriving early except we got a pretty decent parking space.) It was a beautiful night (Mother’s Day, in fact). To kill some time, we crossed Delmar and sat at a table stationed outside in front of Mirasol – a new restaurant (only open a few months). As the sun was going down, we felt a warm breeze that reminded me of being in Miami – South Beach or Coconut Grove. We watched the drama begin to unfold in front of the Pateant.
Hoodfest started at 8pm.
Here’s what the St. Louis Post Dispatch had to say about Hoodfest in the newspaper on Tuesday May 11, 2004
J-Kwon’s strong show
Deserves more fan support
By Kevin C. Johnson
Post-Dispatch Pop Music Critic
“Teen President” J-Kwon might need to campaign a little harder the next time he performs in St. Louis.
St. Louis’ newest rap sensation, dubbed the teen president by some, inexplicably and surprisingly failed to draw a crowd worthy of his newfound stature – a No. 1 rap single in “Tipsy,” a gold CD in “Hood Hop” – at Q95.5’s Hoodfest II concert at the Pageant Sunday night. The first Hoodfest in January with Murphy Lee was a sellout, the balcony was closed for this one.
Maybe hip-hop fans were too caught up in Mother’s Day. Maybe the Trak Starz-presented event at the Rum Jungle at the same time divided the crowd. Maybe the relatively late announcement of the concert hampered ticket sales. Or maybe the gunfire that broke out at J-Kwon’s recent video shoot scared people away.
And Maybe Nelly’s surprise guest appearance should’ve been promoted. Whatever the reasons, folks should’ve been packed into the Pageant to see a rapper big enough to serve as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” next weekend, when his audience will be in the millions.
J-Kwon came with attitude and was flanked by a supportive Nelly, Murphy Lee and Ali, who opened the set with “IC IC,” a track from “Hood Hop.” “Welcome to Tha Hood” and especially the personal “They Ask Me” were a pair of strong selections from J-Kwon. “Sow Your Ass” featured female rapper Eboni Eyes, who gave what was perhaps the nights breakthrough performance. She’s a new act backed by production duo the Trackboys, who are also behind J-Kwon. The Sho-Offs, J-Kwon’s group, also made an appearance.
The boisterous “Tipsy” was followed by the guest laden “Tipsy” remix. Here, it featured Murphy Lee, Nelly and Ali, the recording features J-Kwon with Chingy and Murphy Lee. It ended a too brief set.
During his time onstage, J-Kwon came off as confident, unapologetically raw and almost humorously potty-mouthed, making it interesting to see how he’ll fair on “SNL” compared to recent polished “SNL” guests such as Usher and Avril Lavigne.
Before J-Kwon’s appearance, a number of rising local talents performed more than two hours of brief sets that, to their credit, moved along with barely a break in between. Several of the acts were from Nelly’s Derrty Entertainment label.
Ruka Puff was a standout. Just imagine three Bone Crushers - complete with removal of shirts, exposing lots of excess flesh – and you get Ruka Puff, which performed its song “Angry.” Another standout was Jng Tru and Taylor Made of “Whirlwind” fame, whose set featured Nelly and other St. Lunatics.
Also good were Beano with “Skip to Da Lou” and “Act Bad,” the All Stars with “So Serious,” Xta-C with “So Heavy,” and Kin Jacob and Prentiss Church. Others who performed included Chocolate Thai featuring Z, Hard Knox, Potzie, 2 Cent, Mysphit, Arch Rivals, Ahmad, Lil Loui’s and the Young Boyz.
Critic Kevin C. Johnson