Last night at Mellow Mushroom, Gift of Gab didn’t do justice to his often well-deserved name or reputation. Instead of high-powered hip-hop eloquence, the emcee delivered barely intelligible blather over iPod instrumentals.
Best known as half of the indie hip-hop super duo, Blackalicious, Gab came out dressed more like an accountant than rap star, and worked the stage like it was an office as much as an outlet for ecstatic expression.
Instead of flashy clothes and dance moves, his worthy goal was to let his sometimes astounding lyricism carry the show. But the problem, as is often the case with live hip-hop, was that his rapid-pace delivery, combined with a slightly distorted mic, made it impossible to understand most of the lyrics. Still, the sold-out crowd came to get down, and early Blackalicious hits such as “Deception,” “Sky is Falling” and “Make You Feel that Way” had peeps singing along and dancing on tables.
They were more than amply warmed up by a great opening set of soul-powered R&B and hip-hop from Asheville’s own Secret B-Sides. A range of local emcees joined smooth-swooning frontman Juan Holiday on the stage, including Chach, Foul Mouth Jerk and Adam Strange. The B-Sides’ sexy, laid-back grooves built a perfect foundation for the rappers, who on this night, proved tighter and more passionate than the evening’s much better known headliner.