Event Review: Childish Gambino/Danny Brown/Schoolboy Q @ SummerStage NYC

At first glance you might wonder what the hell are Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q and Childish Gambino doing on the same bill (let alone tour). Danny Brown hailing from Detroit city is a bit of an anomaly in hip hop these days. Sure, plenty of people wear tight jeans now (the headliner Childish is a fan) and often talk about popping pills (this is Schoolboy Q’s territory all day). But, few rappers are willing to sport a perm tossed to one side combined with a flow to make you flip your wig.

Schoolboy Q 1/4th of one of the most talked about collectives in hip hop today (Black Hippy) gives you straight hardcore, drug induced rap with enough energy to leave someone missing a tooth. These two seem like they could roll together and kick it. However, Childish Gambino has had quite a time convincing the world that his rap career was more than an internet meme, being known for acting first and foremost. Being mostly known for his acting abilities on NBC’s show Community, the actor who’s real name is Donald Glover has had an up hill battle with hip hop. However, his albums Culdesac and Camp took care of any uncertain fence riders and set the foundation for this sold out SummerStage show in NYC.

Danny Brown’s opening set struggled to get the crowd going but his music is the kind that if you’re a fan, you’ll ride for it. Call and response songs like Blunt After Blunt and Radio Song got tepid responses, but those who know the words let their neighbors know. His outlandish lyrics about the many ways he’ll perform cunnilingus did well to get some laughs. Danny rarely stopped in between songs to interact with the crowd letting his songs speak for him. For a person who is supposed to be always high, he spits crazy flows without messing up a single word. It takes a special kind of guy to get college co-eds to chant “fuck a P.O. / fuck a piss test!” and mean it.

Schoolboy Q hit the stage second with his trademark flailing arms and bouncing energy. From the
beginning of his set he shows his appreciation for the large crowd. Most Q fans have to go to smaller venues like SOBs to see their Figgside homie rock out. He jokes about trying to perform in Canada and getting denied every time due to his criminal past. A sizable amount of the audience is familiar with Q’s music even if it’s mostly due to his affiliations than his own music (which certainly stands on its own). They still look perplexed when Q gets his die hard fans to fill in the high pitched chorus for There He Go. Everyone joins in when he does the surprisingly radio friendly Hands on the Wheel sans ASAP Rocky.

When the stage gets set up for Childish, it’s clear who the headliner is. Light machines and instruments are brought in to surround the area where there was previously just a DJ set up. A full band complete with two violinists are on deck. The sun has now gone down, and this is where Childish thrives. Every song seems to send his fans into frenzy. Couples stand side by side in Childish Gambino hoodies rapping along to every song. The gangster party is officially over and it’s time for the college kids to reign supreme. The video for L.E.S plays on the big screen while Childish spins a tale that’s just as visual. He’s longs since left behind the question of if he’s truly a rapper or just playing one in real life. The preconceived notions of hip hop have been successfully shed in order to do his own thing which ironically is what hip hop is supposed to be about. All three of these artists use the medium to express themselves regardless of what is expected of them.  But, in his own words Childish claims “This is not a rap concert, this is a Black Rock concert.” Fair enough.

WORDS: Dashaun Simmons @13rose