Saturday, April 16, 2016 – In Memphis, TN, there are always things happening. It’s a things-happening kind of city. Whether it’s a concert one weekend or a festival the next, we rarely find ourselves with nothing to do. However, we may have gone overboard this weekend with all that was going on. Over 25 events were happening in Memphis from April 15-17, and trust me, you could tell. Traffic was awful, standstill throughout downtown (Siri even told me to leave early—I learned my lesson). There were pedestrians all around me, people walking in every direction to different affairs and there I was, one measly Chevrolet Cavalier attempting to cover the Andy Mineo concert at the New Daisy. Stress does not adequately describe my feelings at this moment, and even as I write about this I can still feel the tension of stop and go traffic. With all of that being said, I made it to the concert an hour late and although I am disappointed in myself, I am delighted in the fact that Memphis had so much happening for itself.
Now, forgive me, but I missed Wordsplayed and Gawvi’s set. I hear they played great and that there were some Memphis shout outs during their performances. With Reach Records being so closely affiliated with the city, (the company moved to Memphis in 2006 but left for Atlanta in 2009) I expected the relationship to surface during the show. So, props to Wordsplayed and Gawvi for setting the tone for spectacular performances by Propaganda and Mineo.
When I finally made it, Propaganda was getting ready to take the stage. The spoken word style rapper from California appeared with a shirt that read, “[ ] Democrat [ ] Republican [ X ] Awake.” You could sense that Propaganda’s lyrics held weight as the crowd watched without moving. It felt as if everyone had sort of unscrewed the top of their heads so that their brains could be fully exposed to the message Propaganda was sending. It was a full on poetry slam mixed with a Sunday sermon. Propaganda preached to the crowd to “stay woke” on topics that mattered and urged everyone to realize that they are America and can create much more change than any politician can. The former battle-rapper also gave props to J Dilla and Phife Dawg, referencing his West to East Coast roots. He also revealed that he has a degree in teaching but loves music too much to walk away, therefore he combined the two. Propaganda is not the kind of artist you listen to while you’re riding in your car about to go out on the town, no, he makes music you have to take to dinner or stay up with late at night. Music you have to ponder on, think extensively about, give your undivided attention. He creates scenarios in his songs so that you feel encouraged and enlightened on a subject, which is something that most artists fail to capture in their music.
After Propaganda’s set, Mineo’s wife took the stage to speak about World Vision, an international child sponsorship campaign through which someone can offer to support underprivileged children in other countries. Mineo opened everything with a short video intermission in which he spoke about how much love he has for the kids he sponsors. This is one of the few concerts I have been to during which the artist takes a stand on what he believes and encourages others to stand as well.
Mineo then cut the lights and introduced his set with a poem by Propaganda. When he finally took the stage, he was standing on top of two ten foot video screens dressed in a red “Michael Jackson-esque” zipper jacket. I interviewed Mineo a week ago and he told me to be prepared for a performance and that it would feel more like an experience than a show. He was right.
As he performed, a video illustrated each song’s lyrics and meaning. From Tupac dedications in “Vendetta,” and drum solos in “Desperado,” Mineo made his show something to remember. Perhaps the most memorable being “Hear My Heart,” as Mineo dedicated the performance to his born-deaf sister by signing the lyrics on stage. You could feel that Mineo deeply cared about the performance and how much time was put in to making it such a success.
Before Mineo performed his final song, he gave out his cell phone number for fans to text him and meet him after the concert, just one example of the love he has for them.
A truly incredible show that exceeded all expectations I had, and when it was time to leave I felt edified and encouraged. It was more than a hip-hop show, it was an experience. A+, Mineo.