Kool John and P-Lo are both members of a Bay Area hip-hop collective, HBK Gang, that hails from Richmond, California. As young entrepreneurs, both of them have built their names through independent releases and brand imaging. Kool John has created his own clothing label and brand, Shmoplife, in addition to 3 solo mixtapes. P-Lo has succeeded mostly with his signature ratchet production (with The Invasion), alongside his renowned “Pop it for P-Lo” hashtag.
Together, the HBK boys released a collaborative effort, Moovie!, just last week featuring the likes of iAmSu!, Jay Ant, and G-Eazy, among a few others. To promote the release, they have embarked on a West Coast “Moovie tour” for the next few weeks in which I will catch their show at Slim’s in The City…
August 1, 2015
Slim’s was a smaller venue/bar with a retro-brick interior and a capacity of maybe 500. The set up was dope. Unfortunately, I arrived too late for the first opener, Ace Dough, based out of Portland. The next performance was HBK Skipper, another HBK member and frequent collaborator within the crew. He slapped bangers like “That’s My Word” and “Up,” in addition to a surprise stage visit by Sage the Gemini.
Following next was up and coming Vallejo rapper Nef The Pharaoh. Nef recently signed to E-40’s Sick Wid It Records and released a banger tribute to the Big Tymers. I highly suggest that you listen to this song; it fucking slaps. His energy levels were ridiculous. I’m keen on this dude blowing up the Bay Area scene.
As for the headliners, they did not disappoint. First P-Lo played a quick solo set, constantly keeping energy levels up with his hyphy instrumentals and simple rhymes. It must have been awkward for his girlfriend, standing near myself, to hear him rap about stealing everyone’s girls and his disposition to abstain from condom usage. No matter. What he lacks in lyrical content, he made up for in stage presence.
After P-Lo’s set, Kool John and Sage came on stage for a verse each of iAmSu!’s “Mobbin.”
Once again, this was another pleasant surprise; the crowd seemed to love Sage’s stage appearances, and he definitely appreciated the love. Kool John then performed “Summer Jam” and “Get The Dough,” before bringing another HBK member up, Jay Ant, for his guest feature on “Okay.” Like damn, the entire crew came to The City.
That’s one thing I appreciate a lot about HBK Gang and their independent grind. HBK Gang is not a collective, they’re a crew. They call each other brothers. They share their own stage time with each other. Even the in-between DJ sets slapped hella HBK hits. One can recognize their independent grind with the vast self-promotion and much love spread through each other.
Last came the much anticipated Kool John x P-Lo set. So many bangers. “Blue Hunnids,” “Bitch I Look Good,” “On 1” and “Mad,” to name a few. The two complemented each other well; P-Lo with his rhymes and cult-like popularity, and Kool John’s laid back, inebriated flow. Their distinct instrumentals coupled with their ability to hype the crowd kept the place at a hunnid percent full throttle.
They concluded with a two song encore, in which they brought every single performer in the building (plus more) to the stage. Gotta love when concerts do this; it displays a sense of unity through the music, and it essentially represents a grand finale. Watching the Bay Area Rap scene stick together like that made me happy; especially when it comes to the L.A. scene stealing most of the thunder, we gotta get ours somehow. Putting the entire concert into perspective, it was nothing short of impressive when it came to the atmosphere, the venue, and the performances. Do yourself a favor, and catch the next show in The Moovie Tour if you can!