1. The Rapper Who Desires a Cult
In 2012, when I interviewed Charlotte’s self-proclaimed “cult rapper” Deniro Farrar, his main concern was that he’d come off as “stupid.” That was back when he cared entirely too much about appearances and public perception; he hadn’t yet crafted the “cult rapper” persona that’s powered his recent wave. He cared way more about how trendy his clothes were than how he could tweak his authenticity to rack up devoted fans.
But by the time he joined Danny Brown earlier this year on the Detroit rapper’s “The Old Danny Brown Tour,” Farrar had begun to tap into a more formidable ideology. “I’m not a rapper, I’m a cult leader.” he told me on the Carrboro leg of that tour. “Everything about me and everything that I represent—cult rap is a genre of music that isn’t influenced by materialistic shit or flamboyant activity. It’s purely based on substance.”
Now, whatever makes up that substance comes from more than just street politics and name-brand clothing, which is why, backstage, before his Thursday night Hopscotch performance at the Kennedy, Farrar read George S. Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon instead of swigging from the handle of Jameson being shared by his fellow performers. Yes, the brotha’ reads and, yes, he still occasionally mangles the English language—using words like “misinterpretated.” But who cares? Like the antagonist, Bansir, from the first parable in The Richest Man…, Farrar is now equipped with the lesson that “Every fool must learn,” or to add to his own experiences, ”Every rapper must earn.”
Last night, he earned every penny and grain of respect.
2. The Hopscotcher Who Desires An Umbrella
“Hey officer, some piece of shit stole my umbrella, so if you see me beating the crap out of someone, just know that I’m not a troublemaker,” was just one of the many pleasantries to be heard at Hopscotch in reaction to the opening night’s steady rainfall. After his announcement to the police officer, the man responsible for this comment informed me that he was on his way to Moore Square Transit Station, which is apparently a popular destination for umbrella thieves. Neither the culprit nor the red-and-black, family-sized umbrella were spotted.
Another Hopscotch ass-whoopin’ thwarted.
3. The Punk Rock Band That Desires Pacifism
Regardless of the accusations against Nashville’s Diarrhea Planet about them being a bunch of immature, pop-punk ripoffs, the sextet delivered one of the most charged performances of Thursday night in front of a cramped, volcanic Slim’s crowd. But really, how punk can one band be if, in the middle of their set, one of their four guitarists, tells the crowd to stop beating each other up? “It seems like some of you are trying to start fights,” he said. “We’re not here for that.” You’re wrong, man; I was kind of there for that.
4. The De La Soul DJ Who Desires Much More
Next to 2012 Hopscotch alums The Roots , De La Soul is the greatest hip-hop group of all time, in my mind. This probably had nothing to do with why they were chosen as Hopscotch’s opening night headliners; that decision probably had more to do with the band’s unyielding energy as performers.
The member responsible for most of the rawkus, Maseo (Plug Three), isn’t even one of the frontmen. But he just might put in the most work. You heard it from the City Plaza stage in the loud “aahs” of “Ego Trippin (Part Two)” and in the pervy hook and repeated “oohs” of “Ooh.” Later, at the Five Star Restaurant De La Soul afterparty, the ever-smiling Maseo deejayed a two-hour set for partygoers. Good work all around.