Juaquin Malphurs, aka Waka Flocka Flame, is a self-proclaimed purveyor of punk-rap. His shows are a strange breed between punk recklessness, and gospel rejuvenation. Concertgoers throw elbows (rap’s equivalent to moshing or slam-dancing) while others speak in tongue, a rapid succession of BOW’s (Waka’s ad-lib of choice) piercing the still air like bullets.
Waka’s set this past Thursday night at Emo’s was no different. Granted, fans had to endure a laundry-list of known and unknown performers before finally being graced by Waka’s presence, but the wait was absolutely worth it.
808 bass and sinister, horror movie synths greeted fans as they entered the music venue. Inside, the demographic was not entirely surprising. A large group of scantily clad women, drinks in hand, laughed and clacked their high-heels to mainstream rap hits.
Guys in overly large t-shirts took up a corner, eyeing the scantily clad women while reciting the lyrics to those same rap songs. And a few hipsters, sprinkled throughout the crowd, stared intently at the stage, doing the infamous Lil B “Cooking” dance, whenever possible.
The openers are “turnt up” and “ratchet”
As is the case with most hip-hop shows, there are always an assortment of performers before the main act. From the DJ who looks like he was contacted last minute and bribed with an endless supply of free drinks, to the local rapper who was probably given the same deal, there were several acts that performed prior to Waka.
It’s inevitable. No sound check and no instruments that need to be mic’d, to make up for the extra time show promoters just stack the bill with any rapper whose dedicated to being two very important things: “turnt up,” and “ratchet.”
The openers were surely an enjoyable balance of both. Waka affiliates KayO Redd and Wooh Da Kid put on energizing performances, before their head honcho went onstage. What was impressive about Redd’s set was that the guy had a drummer onstage (Waka would also have a drummer during his set as well).
Usually, drummers are extremely awkward at hip-hop shows. Their sound can hardly be distinguished from the electronic percussion that drives most hip-hop performances, and if they ever happen to get off time, it is blatantly obvious. But this guy was great. He was animated and made sure his presence was known, even if that meant throwing his sticks in the air and never catching them.
The rap game Goku takes the stage
Once Waka took the stage, we could no longer hold back our excitement. In unison we screamed “BOW” and the rapper appeared from behind the stage. For a few minutes he stood center stage, quiet, as if collecting our excitement and making it his own.
He’s something of a rap game Goku (he’s called himself Goku on Machine Gun Kelly’s “Wild Boy”) accepting our excitement and creating his own spirit bomb, in the form of aggressive odes dedicated to the street life. Suddenly Waka begins to move—he’s ready, bombarding his fans with material off his latest mixtape, Salute Me Or Shoot Me 4.
Everyone in the crowd is uncontrollable. Women are gyrating and men are doing the shoulder shrug. Several guys, presumably a part of Waka’s clique, are jumping onstage, microphone in hand just in case they need to repeat a specific word for emphasis.
Then, Waka goes through material from both of his albums, Flockaveli and his latest release, Triple F Life: Fans, Friends & Family. There was more of a focus on the latter album for his performance. Although clumsily named Triple F Life represents a time in Waka’s life where he has come to realize those three things that probably matter most to anybody’s life.
With the death of his close friend Slim Dunkin earlier this year, Waka seems more intent on just having a good time and enjoying the company of those that care about and look up to him. I mean, the guy was passing out a handful of shirts and wristbands to the crowd, just so they could hang out with him and his crew briefly, after the show. Waka really does cater to his fans.
And his set was nothing short of a party: “Round of Applause,” “No Hands,” “Hard in da Paint.” Waka was determined to let the good times roll, and leave fans satisfied. Waka’s set was a testament to the loyal fan base he has created for himself. As we all yelled “Flocka” and “BOW” until our throats screeched in pain, Waka smiled approvingly, before joining us in going as hard as we possibly could.