On The Record: ZGE at The Republik
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
A well-prepared performance can only be great when executed properly, and that was definitely the case Saturday at The Republik. The brotherly chemistry of Zumbi (one half of Zion-I), The Grouch and Eligh — also known as ZGE — showed how their style of rap has qualities both priceless and timeless.
The trio have performed in Hawaii countless times since the 1990s, both separately, collectively and as duos. Billboard hits and mainstream acclaim have never defined them. In a unique way, each have found success by peeling away the pompous, materialistic skin of egocentric rap to reveal positive, uplifting messages in their songs that can still be considered raw and dope.
Less than a month of promotion equated to a respectable turnout, considering there was a competing hip-hop show in Chinatown the same night. Clearly spoken lyrics delivered with purpose and conviction was the theme as the show opened with hyphy street banger, “Hit’em Up.” The explosive track lit up the crowd only to be aided moments later when Eligh’s signature double-time flow awed the audience on “Destination Known.” That song was the first of many showings of Eligh’s lyrical fury on Saturday. The high energy tone was officially set for the first half of the show.
Backed by Hawaii’s own DJ Rude Dogg, ZGE spread themselves across the stage and were fully engaged throughout their set, the hypnotic synths matched by Zumbi’s confident cadence on “Float” before The Grouch went all in on “Never Die” and the ballistically direct vibes of “Drop It On The One.”
All gifted with supreme stage presence and clear intent to rock the house, each artist would rhyme, engage and survey the crowd during just about every song. Today’s generation of up-and-coming rappers could learn a thing or two about sharing the spotlight as the trio supplied their fans with songs created collectively, as solo artists and as sub-groups.
“Ego Killer” and “Human Being” highlighted the middle of the show, only to be surpassed by a performance of “G and E” before Grouch bared the intelligent nature of his soul on “Breath” and “Simple Man.”
The bass funk resurfaced when Kreyshawn joined her homeboys on stage for “Hella Fresh.” Things couldn’t have been more in sync in terms of new school heads and old school fans becoming one during the lyrical excellence displayed on performances of “First Contact,” “The Bay,” “Don’t Lose Your Head” and “All These Lights” before “Coastin” and “Silly Puddy” closed out the evening.
Not only did ZGE and Kreyshawn prove that performers don’t have to exhaust themselves or the crowd to satisfy. The constant jumping and excessive yelling common at hip-hop shows was made to seem like a bunch of wasted energy.
There is something to be said about attending a live show where the performers have an extensive catalog of songs to indulge in — especially when the anthems are delivered from fundamentally sound MCs like Zumbi, The Grouch and Eligh. The underground, independent era that made the trio who they are and into what they represent today as purists and loyal soldiers to the roots and culture of hip-hop.
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.
PICS: ZGE and Kreyshawn at The Republik