Thursday evening at The Granada began with two local acts warming up the crowd before the long-awaited arrival of Indiana emcee, Freddie Gibbs. SuperShaqGonzoe, now a native of the Midwest, kicked off the show with an opening set before a performance from BLKFLANL, the Kansas City duo made up of rapper Barrel Maker and producer Conductor Williams. Fresh off the release of BLKFLANL II: For the Imperfect, for the Diligent, their stage presence and passion for the craft translated to the Lawrence crowd.
With other projects on hand, like his recent Continuity project with Lawrence’s LION, Barrel Maker first teamed up with Conductor Williams in 2015 with the release of BLKFLANL: Barrel Maker X D/WILL. The duo performed a handful of standout tracks from their first release like “BLK FLANL 1 (Break)” and “Hands High,” when Maker spits “I would never claim I’m holding guns / never claim I’m moving packs / never claim I walk around with 20 grand upon my neck.” Williams’ production on this track has the same buoyant elixir as something from a Madlib record.
Most of the pair’s set, unsurprisingly, was material from BLKFLANL II. The crowd repeated the lyrics of the late March release back to Maker and Williams, no more than on the poetic and thought-provoking “Keep Me Safe.” Other than “Guns Up,” Barrel Maker reached his lyrical pinnacle here sure to “stay away from parts of town where lots of cops around / not because I’m doing dirt but ’cause they think you’re shooting first.” The Kansas City act was more than enough to stoke the crowd before Gibbs graced the stage.
Adequately acclaimed after 2014’s Piñata collaboration with Madlib, which cracked KJHK’s Top 10 Albums, and in the midst of his Shadow of a Doubt tour, Frederick Tipton began his only Lawrence performance to date. Gibbs started with the fitting “Rearview,” the opening track from Shadow of a Doubt, released in November 2015 on ESGN Records.
Gibbs moved swiftly through a heavy set leaving no stones unturned. The Gary native made his way to “Still Livin’,” and then “Kush Cloud,” taking intermittent breaks throughout the set for a breath, a drink of water, or to hype up the crowd with chants of “F*ck the police” and “When I say ES you say GN.” Dawning his swanky ‘Champagne Champions’ hoodie, Gibbs assured the crowd before “Pronto” that “we about to really Rock Chalk right here.” He later did right by fans of Piñata and included the Madlib production, “Thuggin’,” in the set as well.
After crossing off a few more hits from list with “Mexico” featuring Tory Lanez on the album, and “Careless,” which was Gibbs at his highest energy level, he ended the set with “BFK” and urged “911 is a joke don’t dial it.” It was an emphatic ending, but the crowd knew Gangsta Gibbs had one more in him. Tipton returned promptly and delivered “Hot Boys” as the final sendoff. Gibbs will finish his Shadow of a Doubt tour nearly a month from now in Houston.