Hooligan Chase At The Studio At Webster Hall, Wednesday, June 26th, 2017. Review
Soundcloud Rap, the current force in youth music exploding into the mainstream, is apparently two different sounds at the same time. The first is the lo-fi teen rappers on Soundcloud itself, finally moving into the mainstream stream world of pop on Spotify, with XXX-tentacation, and Ski Mask The Slum God leading the way and mostly Broward County project black kids following. Both XXX and Ski Mask has the talent, and are in the process of breaking big, though Wednesday night at the Studio At Webster Hall, Ski didn’t manage to sell out the tiny club.
The bands, if that’s what they are, that warmed up for Ski were guys like Hooligan Chase, a white kid from North Carolina who makes his living selling his beats ($40 if you share, $100 if you want an exclusive) and is moving into MCing. He opened the evening or did he? It is hard to tell. At 8pm, the tiny stage was filled to overflowing with guys, and it is hard to understand what they thought they were doing. They less rapped and more chanted not to backing tracks but to actual songs, a sort of brutal extremely, sky high intense , karaoke that went on and on and on, after two hours nobody else had been announced, though I did recognize Smokepurpp and he wasn’t even on the bill. Well beyond simple words like chaotic, everything blurred into itself and elsewhere, guys wandered off and on stage like Sly Stone at BB Kings, neither the songs nor the rapping nor anything else held the center. The most constant shout out was “Hey Hey Hey” by maybe four MCs at once, the second most popular “song” was a huge chant of “Fucked uP’, maybe echoing Ski’s “Take A Step Back,” the most excited the rappers got was a singalong to Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like”. For the most part rapeprs seemed to randomly lose and find interest as the hours went forward, somethings they were on stage and sometimes they weren’t, Hooligan morphed into Honcho into GrownBoiTrap… I think. I did see Chase taking selfies with fans but why did he leave the stage without announcing he was going? Grownboutrap was on stage from the get go, but I thought Hooligan was starting?
It all reminded me of early punk but also early everything. My response to the evening was something like, why isn’t anybody performing? What the hell are they doing standing around screaming “I’m so fucked up” like a walking PSA. But then, that’s exactly what older people said about not punk, I mean, of course punk, but jazz in the early 1900s. On recordings, Soundcloud Rap is a bit of a bore, but live it is a chaotic blast of youth and energy, teenage boys (XXX is the eldest at 21, Lil Pump is 16) and while what they are doing now is as negligible as, say, Slaughter And The Dogs were, like all those early punks (early rap was different) it didn’t matter because it was fun and free and everyone can do it, so just spend forty bucks on some beats, shout “I love pussy” on the top of your lungsm and call yourself a star.
Within half an hour, I was as bored and as interested as the people rapping, waiting for a song to hold on to. And I got one, something about the world and peace, though much more than that I can’t tell you. Obviously, this is not for me, I need more structure; at the very least I need sets to begin and end. But why should they? If the structure is sipping Percodan and dropping Xanax and acting out and being together with, very punk, no huge difference between fan and famous, why even worry what constitutes a performance? At the very least, it is more fun than Travis Scott will ever be.