Chaddy P came through with the live footage from the Freestyle Fellowship-Dag Savage (Johaz & Exile) show at UCSD back in April (by the way, if someone knows the contact for the organizers of that show, send me a message). It was a pretty crazy night between the fire alarms going off, the subsequent evacuations, and the near-cancellation of the show. Not mention the local rapper giving away free debut CDs, the awkward white kids in the front who knew all the words, and Mike Gao swearing like UCSD’s 95% Asian population had as many Freestyle Fellowship fans as they do Dumbfoundead fans and telling everyone they should come hella early and me coming hella early to an empty ballroom as Exile was soundchecking and him telling me to get the hell out before I ran into Mike Gao and guilt-tripped Gao into letting me stay because I’d been waiting for 2 hours on his word. And then of course, there were the performances.
Let me tell you: Johaz rocks live. A few months ago, this one dude who had just moved to San Diego had come on the Access Boards asking about the local hip-hop scene. He checked out Deep Rooted (Johaz’s group act) on people’s suggestions and he wasn’t impressed. But I couldn’t really blame him. Deep Rooted (and Johaz) is one of the very few acts in hip-hop that you really need to see live. When they get on-stage, they light up. It’s not just that they have energy. It’s that they genuinely enjoy performing, like in the theatrical sense. They seem to really love rapping for an audience and then illustrating their raps and their music through their hands and bodies.
Just check out Johaz’s performance above, owning the stage with his fly down, maybe not noticing, either way not giving a fuck. Around the 5:45 mark, the next song opens with just the beat and this old female vocal sample. Johaz doesn’t just nod his head to it. He goes fucking apeshit, mouthing the words to the sample as he desperately tries to like illustrate the dopeness of the beat through his bodily motions. He looks like he’s having the time of his life. And not that “drunk in the club” time of his life that some rappers might mistake for a good performance (I’m not sure how). It’s not about the rapper having fun but about the rapper having fun by performing. Johaz enjoys performing. Deep Rooted enjoys performing. And that’s something that doesn’t translate well to CD. If you’re only listening to Deep Rooted and not watching Deep Rooted, you are doing yourself and them a great disservice.
Chaddy P has more footage of Johaz and Exile performing songs from their Dag Savage collabo, including video of Exile on the MPC. You can also check out footage of Freestyle Fellowship shutting shit down later that night.