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Friday, May 28, 2010

Photos: Big Boi, Yelawolf, Jay Electronica get their Shrine on

Big Boi/KIN show
Big Boi/KIN show Big Boi/KIN show Big Boi/KIN show Big Boi/KIN show Big Boi/KIN show Big Boi/KIN show Big Boi/KIN show Big Boi/KIN show

Big Boi/KIN show

By Joeff Davis

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If you've ever wondered what that temple with the onion-shaped dome on Ponce de Leon Avenue looks like on the inside, just imagine walls of photos featuring pasty, old white men in those pimped-out red beanies that resemble mini-KFC chicken buckets turned upside down on top of their heads.

Atlanta's Yaarab Shrine Temple certainly was not built for Big Boi and company. The acoustics were wack and the floorboards were weak, but it was still the perfect place to hold last night's secret show, spread by word-of-Twitter and Facebook only hours before the curtains went up at 8 p.m.

Jay Electronica, the god MC (no, really: he has "god" tatted on his neck, and you've heard him rhyme, right?), opened the show, followed by Interscope's newest catch, Yelawolf, aka Catfish Billy. J Elect did that thing he always does onstage where he hushes the DJ midway into his verse so he can spit a cappella. It's cool as hell the first time you see him do it, ’cause you really get to feel the impact of his lyrics. But last night the sound was so bad that he probably would've been better off riding the beat.

Next up was Yelawolf. While he was performing I noticed KP (Kawan Prather) onstage DJing behind him. It's probably the first time I've seen a label owner DJing behind his own act. Prather recently signed Yelawolf to a deal with Interscope Records via Prather's own GhettoVision imprint.

By the time Big Boi took the stage, most people were on at least their third free drink (yep, the bar was wide open, thanks to the show's corporate sponsor which I'm probably supposed to mention here but would feel like such a *cheap ho if I did). He started off with the ol' OutKast medley deal — you know the one where he strings all of their classics together, jumping from one hook to the next without giving the crowd time to bemoan the fact that ’Dre's in absentia. After nearly a decade of performing solo, he's really become a pro at it. Of course, Black-Owned C-Bone had his back as hype man while CutMaster Swiff manned the wheels.

From the crowd's reaction when Big started to perform the new shit — specifically "Shutterbugg," the lead single from his upcoming album Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty — he has a hit on his hands. Give it a month to balloon all over radio now that the insane video has dropped. In last night's club-like setting, it bumped like spiked party punch. So much so that a seam in the floorboard apparently caved in about two inches deep, though it's uncertain when during the show it happened.

By the time Big shut it down with a banging performance of "Kryptonite" (with his pint-sized son dancing center stage), I couldn't help but wonder how cool Big Boi would look rocking one of those red velvet Shriner hats with the tassel pimped to the left? If you see it in his next video, remember we said it here first.

*Cheap ho disclosure: The show's corporate sponsor was unusually under-bearing (if that were even a word) with no heavy signage or annoying info booths set up. The only time they made their presence known during the show was when one of their baseball-capped representatives came up to me between sets requesting my email address to enter to win their new smart phone gadgety thing. I gave them my work email. So there.

(Additional reporting provided by Dustin Chambers. Photo gallery by Joeff Davis.)

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