Topping the marquee was the progressive hip-hop mind of Milo. With a cerebral frequency that’s as literate as it is out there, this Midwesterner is the truest quintessence of an indie rapper. With sounds that coast by like abstract jazz zephyrs and raps that lean left and pimp easy, Milo steps like a blazed Digable Planets from the near future.
Meanwhile, experimental New Yorker Elucid comes from a space so inspired by dark electronics that he’s just as apt on record to craft wordless drone soundscapes as he is to actually drop bars. On stage, though, his elemental, displacing music and roughneck raps that hit like constant confrontation merge into a storm of smothering nihilism that Dälek would respect.
But, by far, the most rousing performance of the night was delivered by JPEGMAFIA. The Baltimore product is an exciting rap force who is utterly of the moment, a sniper from out on the edge with the zeitgeist squarely in the crosshairs.
Thematically, he jabs at culture with a bite that’s provocative, topical and humorous. You might imagine how one could pick on Morrissey like he does on “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies.” But how many rappers do you know who name-drop Burzum and then straight drop the gauntlet on Varg like Peggy does on “ALL CAPS NO SPACES”? This cat’s deep.
To live up to all this, his one-man show packs the live dynamite of Ho99o9. Even at his most minimal, he is pure fire. But when his production hits the gas and meets his flame like it does on “Baby I’m Bleeding” on his 2018 album Veteran, the results are total combustion.
On stage (and often on the floor in the thick of the crowd), JPEG is part live wire, part raw nerve, all juggernaut. It’s rap done with punk spit, and it peeled the lid off the spot. Add it all up and you’ve got one of the most stirring hip-hop acts in the game right now. Even with humor as one of his cornerstones, this is some of the toughest shit out there.
Instead of being just a footnote, however, the local support was a revelation even among this studded bill. MC-producer Mag.Lo is a young Deltona artist who came with strong grassroots support, packing out the room despite being the first performer on the four-act bill of an extra-early show.
In attitude and ethos, his new-paradigm voice is as opposite of old-school hip-hop street braggadocio as it gets. But this kid owns it in his own skin and is as smooth as hot butter. And though he’s got enough nerd cred to be interesting – especially in his musical palette – he’s just too transcendental to be boxed in by it.
You don’t exactly come from out of nowhere when you have a following like this. But he’s eschewing tradition in both his climb and angle. Though he’s cut his teeth mostly in Daytona and niche area venues like the Geek Easy, he made a very big splash this night on a primetime Orlando stage. If you didn’t know what was going on, you’d have thought he was the national headliner by the reaction of the crowd when he descended onto the floor near the end of his set. Mag.Lo got a posse. And he’s one of the most impressive local finds to come along in some time.
A year ago, nobody would’ve thought that one of the freshest impresarios of interesting rap music would be the city’s most established heavy music promoter. But with a recent string of shows like Sadistik, Nacho Picasso, Jonwayne and definitely this one, Endoxa Booking is bringing some of the brightest rap that’s igniting the fringe right now.