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DJ Shadow @ Kool Haus — Get Rid Of Lateef

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
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My second show in two nights at the Kool Haus (Oct 12) was unfortunately the weaker of the two, which is all the more disappointing since it wasn’t really the headliner who brought it down, but the opener who just kept getting in the way.

DJ Shadow is a very gifted musician; he incorporates a vast range of styles, instrumentation and vocals into his music, more so than most electronic performers. He just seems to have bad judgement sometimes in terms of his collaborators. Case in point — the opener for the night, Lateef the Truth Speaker (go to the ‘artists’ section of the Quannum site). This guy just blows. In terms of rap, it seems sometimes like there are only two choices available — gangsta rap about bitches and ice, or ‘positive’ rap which is meant to ‘spread the love.’ Lateef falls into the latter category. While I don’t like gangsta rap because the lyrics are often rude, misogynist and stupid, somehow it’s even worse to hear someone rapping about love and how we have to get the peace-word out. It just seems so aww-shucks for some reason, or as if it was co-opted by geeky white guys. The only good rap, in my mind, is stuff like K-os, Lauryn Hill, The Roots — hip-hop made by true artists who have a personal artistic vision and who aren’t just recycling all their sentiments.

So, first we had to suffer through his opening set. That was soon forgotten when Shadow took the stage though, laying down a thick helping of cool visuals and re-mixed tracks from The Private Press, Psyence Fiction, Entroducing and his new album The Outsider. After a short stint with another vocalist (I forget who it was) that had a Coldplay-ish sound to it (which kinda took the wind out of the crowd), Lateef was brought back in; it was painful. He must have said “what’s up Toronto Canada!” at least fifty times (that’s not an exaggeration), as if we didn’t know where we were. In fact, he seemed obsessed with the fact he was in Toronto; he kept rambling on about how they were in Cleveland the night before, and had to pack up four buses worth of equipment, and then they had to wait at the border blah blah blah. I didn’t come to a show to listen to his guy yap on and on about his travel itinerary. It was horrible pacing, and then both him and Shadow kept extolling the crowd to ‘get into it’ and give them some energy;’ problem is, they kept sucking the energy away with the too-long gaps between songs and all this boring and pointless banter.

There was also this horrible video they had of Lateef during one of the songs; I don’t remember what the song was about, but the video looked exactly like something you’d see if a rapper guested on Seasame Street — close-ups of pens drawing lines on paper, Lateef floating around in the foreground, and then it would zoom into his face as he cupped his hands around his mouth as if he was shouting, simultaneous with him shouting something during the song. That’s an awkward description, but hopefully you’ll know what I mean — it just felt like the whole show was geared toward an eight year-old.

So, my advice to Shadow — if you want high energy from the crowd, keep the show moving, keep the tempo up, and find a better cohort — I was into it until you let it fade.

Photo by Marjan Alemi03971semaj

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One Comment leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Tuesday, October 17, 2006 1:49 pm

    Here are some videos of the two from the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver if you want to get an idea for yourself:

    Lateef

    DJ Shadow: Part I, Part II, Part III

    The audio’s not great though.

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