It was Friday evening at Murray Hill Theater in Jacksonville, FL.. The venue was full of a good blend of what seemed to be hipsters and urban youth all waiting for the Crimson Cord Tour. I asked some people who they were there to see and some said Propaganda and others said Swoope. You could tell that no one really knew what to expect. I’m a fan of all three artists on the ticket (JGivens, Swoope and Propaganda), but I hadn’t seen any in concert. I was most excited for how their live performances would be.
DJ Will from Jacksonville was getting the crowd excited and Uncle Reece was our host. Kidd Swift was the opening act and he got the crowd to get close and get moving. After his act, Uncle Reece introduced DJ Efechto and let him warm up before they brought the artists out.
I was a little surprised that during DJ Efechto’s set he didn’t play much hype music. He played classic hip hop instrumentals but it was real calm. I should’ve expected it, given the type of music Humble Beast puts out, but I thought it might be different in a concert setting.
Uncle Reece announced JGivens and we were off. Right away, he captured the audience, taking large leaps across the stage and bringing high energy. As I was in the crowd, I could tell everyone was semi-shocked; they didn’t know what to do. JGivens picked up on this and had the DJ lighten the mood with the classic Michael Jackson hit, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”. Instantly, everyone was smiling and grooving and then out of nowhere, the music stopped and JGivens jumped into his latest single “Jackpot.”
It was fitting because it was the song/video that was released when he signed to Humble Beast. He went on to do songs from his project El v. Envy like “(a)bridg(d) thoughts” and “The Bus Stop Song.”
You could see that many people in the audience hadn’t heard of his music, but you could tell that he won people over. JGivens brought energy and clarity (in his delivery) all throughout his set. Although he was bouncing and getting the crowd to wave their hands, it seemed as if he never lost his breath or failed to complete a line. I was most surprised by that. He also did a great job talking to the audience and getting people to be comfortable. He embraced the fact that people may not know him and used it to his advantage.
You cannot re-do a first impression and at the Crimson Tour, I think JGivens did a wonderful job introducing himself to new fans.
Now that JGivens left the crowd excited and anxious, the crowd was ready for Swoope. However, we weren’t ready for what we got. He came out and says, “I’m an 80’s baby, can we take it back” and DJ Efechto starts playing the instrumentals to classic early 90’s R&B & Hip Hop songs.
His set weaved in and out of that old school hip hop theme. He did classic songs from Wake Up like “Fantasy” over 90’s hip hop instrumentals. He also performed “Dreamslave” and did verses from his collabs on WLAK (“Reign Is Coming”) and even Church Clothes (“Long Time Comin”).
I was surprised that he did not perform “YHWH”, but he did perform two songs that have not been officially released. He performed “Jesus Is God,” where he spent his verses explaining how Jesus is more than just a mere man. This track was definitely the turn up song of his set. The crowd went crazy while screaming “Jesus Is God!”
The other song that he shared was interesting. He said the song was called “Word To My Peoples” and the premise was all about not watering down the word of God while being missional in music. I thought this was interesting considering how close he runs with people that get accused of this. His label mate, Christon Gray had an album that did not mention Jesus and he was on the album. Though interesting, the song was great and I think people will eat it up when it drops. It may stir controversy, but the content was on point.
Overall, Swoope’s set was really good. One more highlight was how well he taught in between songs. He was transparent about how the spotlight can become appealing and then used that same reference to bring home the point that Jesus needs to be our ultimate treasure. After his set, people were out of breath and greatly encouraged.
If you are a fan of Prop, you know that he’s not your average rapper; not even your average poet. He lives in a lane that is his own. I had high expectations strictly off of what I’ve seen him do as a poet.
Prop cue’d the DJ to start the music and he began swinging his dreadlocks and doing this jumping clap that was uncomfortable at first for the audience. He then told the crowd to put away their phones so that we could be present with him in the moment. Oddly enough, the crowd listened and he re-started the music. This time, the energy was on another level.
Prop did a variety of songs, starting from the first track of his album (Crimson Cord) up through “Make.” He took some time to encourage us to be the varsity version of ourselves and pursue excellence before he talked about “Bored of Education.” He made really good points encouraging the crowd and even did a great job exposing some of the flaws in our education system. After a slew of songs from the album, he did classic songs from Excellent such as “Don’t Listen To Me” and “Excellent.” You could tell that the crowd was more acquainted with the older music because they were keeping up with every lyric. The energy was through the roof.
His set was great because it walked us through the album and gave the audience commentary on his heart behind the music. It was truly encouraging. He spoke about how we are all uniquely made and how we all have our own “crimson cord” tying all that we are made of into what we’re called to do. He also shared about how big this was for him to finally headline his own tour. While sharing his own insecurities, he encouraged the audience to climb the mountains in their lives instead of getting comfortable. “Some people think they don’t have any mountains, that’s usually not true, they just got comfortable and stopped climbing!” says, Propaganda.
As his set ended, Swoope and JGivens came out and they performed “Raise The Banner” and did a special remix to “Misconception” where Swoope and JGivens rapped their own verses. The concert ended on a high note and the artists walked off the stage.
The concert was a great experience. The artists did not have many visuals to accompany their set, but they all brought a stage presence with them that was truly captivating and engaging. There were some awkward transitions between acts but that may have had more to do with the venue than their actual set. This was a concert that fans won’t want to miss. I’m excited for what other tours Humble Beast has in the making.
After The Show Interviews
After the concert I was able to talk with Propaganda and JGivens, and asked them a few questions:
Wade-O Radio: What is the reception that you have seen thus far on the tour?
Propaganda: It’s been kinda cool ’cause…we’re finding our tribe, like our family are very loyal. It’s like a small remnant, they’re not multitudes but the couple hundred that come through know every lyric and they came for us. That’s been super dope hearing people say they have been waiting for this and wanting it.
Wade-O Radio: During the concert you mentioned that this was your first time leading your own tour, what have you found to be most challenging about that?
Propaganda: Defining yourself by ticket sales. If the place is packed, you’re like oh yea God’s called me to this and things are well. But if no one shows up you’re like no one loves me, what am I doing, Jesus doesn’t love me. You’re up and down and have to remember that your value comes from the fact that Jesus saved me and I am already loved no matter what.
Wade-O Radio: What has been your biggest highlight?
Propaganda: Getting out and seeing with my own eyes that people are there and they are impacted by what we do. Like, you didn’t have to come and people are choosing to come and be apart of what we are doing. That’s been super dope and encouraging.
Wade-O Radio: So how did you get connected with the Humble Beast crew?
JGivens: “My very first interaction with Propaganda was when he came and did a concert in Vegas and I walked up to his table and said ‘You’re dope!” After that, I continued to follow their concerts and I was doing my independent thing. We kept crossing paths and we had some mutual friends and it just developed over aboutthree and half years.”
Wade-O Radio: How is it being signed and waiting to release new music, are you anxious?
JGivens: It’s great. It’s important for everyone to know that being signed to a label is way more multi-faceted than just your album and putting out music. There’s the serving aspect as well. Like yeah you’re working on music but what else are you doing? How are you serving people? I’m feeling good working on stuff while waiting. I’m apart of a label with an awesome roster of bothers and sister and we are putting so much good stuff out that I’m not just sitting back waiting on my turn. I get to stand behind them and rally with their stuff as well.
If you are looking for more information about the Crimson Cord Tour, you can click here or check out the tour dates below.
5/28/14 – Tempe, AZ – Redemption Church
5/29/14 – Pomona, CA – The Glass House
6/1/14 – Seattle, WA – The Vera Project