all words: Jeb Gavin
all photos: Kevin Hulse
I believe I have glimpsed the future of music in Theophilus London. His show this past Monday night at the 9:30 Club could be viewed as underdeveloped; sparse though highly energetic. But listening carefully, you get a sense of what could be transcendent, especially compared to other, similar shows.
London is one of a new crop of rappers, seemingly willing to rap over any music, anywhere, with a half-assed interest in fashion and the mentality of a skate punk. But the similarities end quickly. The show, as frenetic a show as I’ve seen in years, was not without focus. The opening act, Phony PPL, was a seemingly endless stream of young men overjoyed to be on stage, and making music which crossed genres. London had it the other way around, excited to be sharing interesting, unique music with his audience, and just happened to be on a stage while doing it.
London is a rapper, in the sense that he occasionally raps in his songs. But he is just as likely to sing his own hooks and choruses, often after bringing a guitarist, bassist and sometimes a drummer on stage. I found myself watching, and wondering what kind of damage he could do given a full band capable of setting a serious groove; keys, synths, horns, and backup vocals included. Basically, I want to see Theophilus London put together a new Parliament-Funkadelic, and lay waste to everyone currently rapping over mediocre dubstep beats, old new wave hits, or recycled tracks from other rappers.
The rapid flow of music, the mixing of genres, everything from punk to R&B to funk and back again, served to foster a sense that London was so excited to be making his music, this particular blend of music, and he couldn’t wait to get it out of the speakers. Between the mid-song crowd surfing, serenading fans on stage, and occasionally cutting tracks a verse or two in- claiming they were too new to share completely, I saw the makings of what could be an amazing showman, as well as the next great musician. After the show ended, London’s DJ stuck around to spin danceable R&B for the audience while London and the boys from Phony PPL signed autographs and passed out roses on the floor. I walked out of the club energized, which rarely happens after shows, and surprisingly hopeful for the future of music.