‘Lethal’ rap resurgence

On March 18 the College Union Board (CUB) hosted its first ever hip-hop show in the Rathskeller featuring P.O.S. and Mac Lethal. The College rarely gets to see rap acts, especially artists of this caliber.

Having come almost directly from their performances at the South by Southwest music festival, the Kansas City bad boys took to the stage to show students what underground hip-hop is really about.

For the first 15 minutes or so, as people started filing into the Rat, DJ Sku started spinning records and launching tracks from his laptop just to get everyone warmed up and satiated.

Once Mac Lethal took the stage, the emcee took charge of the venue.

“I want to set some ground rules,” he said. “No, you can’t come up here and freestyle. And I don’t want any of your boys coming up here to try and look like fools.”

He started off slowly, speaking about his disgust for pop-culture mainstays like “The White Rapper Show” and Fergie, but started to work his way into rapping. Tossing words and phrases out in a more or less machine-gun manner, it is easy to see why he is recognized as one of the best freestylers in hip-hop today.

He then ran through a few songs from his Rhymesayers debut, “11:11,” most notably “Make-Out Bandit.” Most of Mac Lethal’s musical numbers came from his freestyle endeavors, relying heavily on a blend of highbrow and lowbrow lyricism with the occasional shout-out to things like hatred for Insane Clown Posse fans or his love of slap bracelets.

“I’d like to dedicate this next song to Tool,” Lethal joked. “Thank you for making the same album that sounded like the last album that sounded like the album before that.”

Just three or four songs into his set, it became clear that the show was officially Lethal’s. With a biting sense of sarcasm and an outlandish outlook, his vocals served up a refreshing, absurdist view. Although he dips heavily into self-deprecation, he still comes off as reassured and methodical.

DJ Sku continued on playing fresh beats ranging from Public Enemy samples to honky-tonk hee-haw cuts as Lethal held a steady mix of humor, cynicism and aggressive determination. The audience responded positively to most of this material, especially a parody of Three 6 Mafia’s “Stay High” in which the lyrics were changed to “I got a DUI.”

The four Campus Police officers stationed outside of the Rat were not amused.

Shortly after this, P.O.S. came on. Without stopping or slowing the show down, he busted onto the stage to keep the party going.

Because of his roots in skateboarding and punk scenes, you wouldn’t consider him to be someone who embodies hip-hop. While his style of rapping had intelligent wordplay and raw energy, there was an element that felt a bit lacking. His brand of hip-hop did not seem to have the staying power of Mac Lethal.

Although he is a fairly competent rapper and has a truly original style, it pales in comparison to the performance Mac Lethal put on. Although the night was a fantastic time for all, it should be noted that Lethal’s performance was the pinnacle of the event.