Back in the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s, rappers who were trying to create a career out of their craft hoped and prayed that they would get noticed by a major label. In most cases, this was the only way to turn their passion into a successful job as major labels were the key to funding, marketing, managing, etc. But with the rise of the Internet and the features it brings such as YouTube, digital downloads, and streaming sites; major labels are no longer a necessity to make it big in the rap game. Independent artists can get big off of a single song posted to Soundcloud. Because of this, many young rappers are choosing to stay in their own lane and build something of their own rather than signing their rights away to a corporation.
It appears as if there is a new independent label on the upswing that will soon have a big impact in hip-hop: Awful Records. Based out of Atlanta, the 17 members of Awful Records have formed a unique and eclectic collection of musicians that are attempting to make waves in the world of music. Like most groups of up-and-comers, this group has a talented leader in their founder and CEO, Father. After bursting onto the scene with his 2014 cult hit “Look at Wrist”, Father has helped put Awful Records on the map with his albums Young Hot Ebony and Who’s Gonna Get F***** First?. The acclaim that these projects have received has been pivotal in the recognition of his label mates, with artists such as Playboi Carti, Slug Christ, and Abra starting to harness attention as well. In order to capitalize on all of this success, Father recently embarked on the Cry $$$ Tour with 20 shows over 31 days stretching across the entire country.
I was lucky enough to attend the July 18th show in Chicago at Reggie’s, a venue on the Southside of the city. The night started with Awful member KeithCharles Spacebar jumpstarting the crowd and getting the excitement going. Performing a few tracks off of his album released earlier this year, We’re All A Little Triflin, the fans in attendance were bouncing along to Spacebar’s infectious energy. While his set only lasted about 10 or 15 minutes, KeithCharles Spacebar put on quite the show and if anyone there wasn’t a fan before, I’m sure they were after he finished.
Next up was Archibald Slim. He was filling in for Playboi Carti, who was listed on the billing but for an unknown reason was not at the show. While it was clear that many people were disappointed that they were not going to get to see “Broke Boi” live, Slim worked with what he had and rapped with skill and precision. Though the crowd may not have been into him as much as they were KeithCharles Spacebar, Archibald Slim definitely impressed me with his ability on the mic. Like Spacebar, his set was short and was over almost as soon as it had begun.
After Archibald Slim finished his time on stage, the crowd anxiously waited for the main event: Father. As soon as the first thump from the bassline of “Look at Wrist” hit and Father entered, everyone was eating out of the palm of his hand. For someone dressed casually in a t-shirt and athletic shorts, Father’s stage presence was unparalleled to almost anyone I have ever seen live. He oozed charisma and confidence as he rapped, danced, and talked to the fans during his set. Playing the majority of the songs off of Who’s Gonna Get F***** First? as well as the most popular cuts from Young Hot Ebony, Father was in control the entire night as the crowd was energized and locked on to his every move. Over the hour that he was performing, the party never stopped and it seemed as if no one wanted it to ever end. Ending the night with “Everybody in the Club Getting Shot”, Father walked off the stage the same way he came on it with “Look at Wrist” bumping.
The whole night was one of the craziest environments that I have ever been in for a concert. Everyone was into it and all the rappers were incredible. I hope that I will be able to see them many more times in the upcoming years. Father and Awful Records are part of the future of rap, but I highly suggest jumping on the bandwagon now.
*Image from BET Uncut