Live: Protoman CD-Release Party, Green Room, November 19

The Green Room, Fort Lauderdale
Saturday, November 19, 2011

For a slide show from the concert, click here.

Better than: A serious rapper who is also funny is always better than a comedian who wants to be taken seriously as a rapper.

Protoman's been repping the 954 as a rapper for the past decade, and an electrified 954 crowd repped him right back at the Green Room on Saturday.

Throughout the night, the atmosphere was filled with back-slapping and congratulatory hugs -- and that's even after the high school reunion cleared out of the downtown Fort Lauderdale venue. The friends and fans of Protoman assembled to toast the official release of Beat a Dead Horse 'Til She Resurrects, a document of songs that come from a personal place -- even if they're about other people. He and I discussed it, and his Lauderdale living, at length here.

With Footwork4self labelmate Jabrjaw as his backing DJ, Protoman  -- himself clad in a baseball cap covered in 954s and a Black Locust Society T -- took the stage sometime after 1 a.m. and jumped into a blistering verse, strutting back and forth across the stage as the flashbulbs sparkled in front of him. The pace was hectic, to be sure, but he made sure to break up his tightly wound bars of rhymes with jokes. "You promised me goth girls," he called out to Radio-Active Records' Mikey Ramirez. "I wanna lie in bed with a goth girl and talk about Trent Reznor."

"I Be Up Late," one of the strongest moments off Beat a Dead Horse and a dedication to the bar crowd over at Poorhouse around the block, featured prominently early on. Live, the song is equally charming, and when Proto hits the second verse, it's a breath-control gymnastics routine. And just as quickly, it was on to the next one. Although the dizzying speed from song to song got through a lot of material without tapping the intensity, it did make for a slightly ADD experience. Then again, much like the "Watch the Throne" tour earlier in the week, a runaway-train approach is far better than lengthy lulls between songs and annoying hype men fighting for stage time.

After a prank call to DJ Rob Riggs, who was apparently somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean doing a gig on a Carnival cruise, Protoman hit the home stretch with a couple of classics in "Wake Up" and "Why Do I." The latter got him seated on the edge of the Green Room stage, and he remarked, "Big Pun was a smart motherfucker," referring to another guy who could command a room without being on his feet. Even with the MySpace reference eliminated, the 5-year-old "Why Do I" sticks because it was a such a forward-thinking and universal document about the artistic process at the time.

But no hip-hop show should be finished on a low-key note. Back on his feet and nodding to the thuds of Kreayshawn's "Gucci Gucci," Protoman officially wrapped up his scheduled performance by skewering every person in the room for the hipsters we are. A still-hungry crowd wanted one more, though. So Jabrjaw loaded up the beat from "Nas Is Like," and the night ended with a freestyle from the semiretired battle rapper with just as much pose-striking intensity -- if not more -- than what it had when it began. 

Critic's Notebook

The crowd: Lots of Black Locust Society T's and properly positioned baseball caps among the males. But alas, no goth girls.

Random notebook dump: Not a lot of people even know what Tri-Rail is, but it got a shout-out Saturday.

Personal bias: Much like Protoman, I enjoy Ace Hood. Can't say the same for Kreayshawn.

Set List

Don't Need Your Love
One Two
Trap Door
Hold the Floor
I Be Up Late
Wake Up
Why Do I
Gucci Gucci

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Reed Fischer
Contact: Reed Fischer