NEW YORK — The annual CMJ music showcase is well under way, and MTV Hive rounded up Killer Mike, Mr. Mutha----in' eXquire, Big K.R.I.T. and the Flatbush Zombies for a raucous set at Webster Hall on Thursday night.
The always-energetic Killer Mike opened the show, performing an a cappella version of the politically charged single "Reagan" from his recent album R.A.P. Music, and it didn't take very long before he got the crowd involved. Hopping off the stage, he got energy levels up as he delivered "Kryptonite," with Mr. Mutha----in' eXquire by his side, helping him to amp fans up.
"Why'd I decide to get involved in this show? It's got the artists I like on it," Mike told MTV News backstage before his sound check. "I like seeing X — I just got off tour with him — I like seeing K.R.I.T., and I heard some Flatbush Zombies stuff, and I'm interested in seeing them. And it's Webster Hall," he added, enthusiastically. "I feel like I'm getting my punk-rock band on."
New York rapper Le1f, who made a splash this summer with his video for "Wut," brought two backup dancers to the stage with him to perform. Both he and the dancers shielded their faces in camo-colored handkerchiefs for the first 15 minutes of the set, and his performance of "Wut" was clearly what the crowd was waiting for. "This is my first year of doing CMJ ever, which is awesome," he told MTV News. "I've always wanted to, and to start, we're doing, like, 10 shows this week. It's been really low-key for a long time. [I've been] doing small parties in downtown Brooklyn and stuff like that, and then since the video [for 'Wut'] came out, it's popped off."
Mr. Mutha----in' eXquire was up next, and if you've ever caught one of the Brooklyn rapper's live shows, you'd know that he never really worries about censoring himself. eXquire's set was fearless and full of attitude — as he even decided to give the crowd a few peeks at his gut — and Killer Mike eventually joined him to perform "Huzzah," which really seemed to make his night.
Big K.R.I.T., the night's headlining act, followed eXquire, performing tracks from his major-label debut, Live From the Underground, not skimping on his Southern charm. Flatbush Zombies were the closing act, performing their most popular hit, "Thug Waffle," giving the crowd just what they wanted to hear.
It was clear throughout the night that each performer brought their own distinct vibe to the showcase, with most ending up in the crowd at some point to dance and interact with their fans.