Two hip-hop brothers performed last Wednesday here at UCR — and it was awesome. Evidence and Alchemist recently released a long overdue album together as Step Brothers, titled “Lord Steppington,” and they performed their new material, sprinkled with their prolific catalog, at the Barn for the Riverside crowd to go crazy over.
As what has almost become Barn tradition, hip-hop acts tend to do sound check extremely late — as in, “a large majority of the crowd is already present” late. The show went on as planned as people continued to filter in. The crowd wasn’t nearly as big as when Evidence performed solo at the Barn a few quarters ago, and there doesn’t seem to be any good explanation for that. Evidence and Alchemist performing together seems like an even better scenario than Evidence alone, but nonetheless, the crowd was still present and active as soon as the Step Brothers took the stage.
Attendees were as adamant as Alchemist and Evidence about putting on a good show. The duo began their set with a few songs off “Lord Steppington,” beginning with the last song off the album, “Just Step.” The energy was real, and the fans were as knowledgeable about the music as the Step Brothers were about getting the right reaction out of the audience. Hands were high for a majority of the show and head nods rolled like waves. The crowd was following all of the hooks, and some fans were reciting the lyrics word-for-word. One of the most memorable moments was when Evidence and Alchemist built up to their song, “Legendary Mesh” — regarding A Tribe Called Quest, Evidence said “Tip is very smooth,” while Alchemist fully believed that “Phife is very hype.” Evidence had half the crowd screaming about Tip’s smoothness, while Alchemist’s half of the room let the other side know that Phife’s hype was real. The crowd soon caught on to the infectious hook of “Legendary Mesh,” and the venue reached its peak as soon as the beat dropped.
Alchemist stepped back for a part of the set to let Evidence shine with some of his single work. “Chase the Clouds Away” and “Mr. Slow Flow” were obvious crowd favorites, as their anticipation was met with an eruption of cheers. The crowd was oh-too-familiar with Evidence’s catalog, screaming out “I don’t need love” once the song came on. There were numerous songs played from the 2011 album, “Cats and Dogs,” which gained Evidence much of his present fame. The Alchemist-produced song “Red Carpet” was met with love, but unfortunately the features on that song, Raekwon the Chef and Rass Kass, weren’t there to spit their verses — otherwise, who knows if the Barn would have been left standing.
Evidence then gave the stage to Alchemist. As one of the best producers in the game, and with a resume littered with production work for such artists as Mobb Deep, Rick Ross, Schoolboy Q and Earl Sweatshirt — to name a few — Alchemist put on a mix of some of his biggest and most famous beats. The instrumental mastermind behind a plethora of hip-hop hits, Alchemist kept the audience’s drive going without any lyrics, just beats. The crowd immediately reacted with heavy enthusiasm once Alchemist spun his track produced for Mobb Deep, titled “The Realest.” The too-filthy-for-radio, bass-heavy track seriously injured some necks with its infectiously simple grooveline. From then on, Evidence and Alchemist finished the show with some songs from their work as Dilated Peoples and a couple more tracks off of “Lord Steppington.” They undoubtedly could’ve continued their set, but were prompted to wrap it up (due to UCR’s 11 p.m. curfew) after the violent bass from their body-numbing track, “Step Masters.”
The Step Brothers put on a great performance that any fan of the group or hip-hop would love. Evidence hung out afterward to sign T-shirts, CDs and posters while Alchemist chilled in the back to relax after their great performance. Most of the crowd clamored toward the front to have their stuff signed, and would have undoubtedly stayed longer to hear more great music from these artists. The only downside to this show was that my neck was hurting after jamming so hard.