Last night’s Riders Against the Storm show had all the makings of the dynamic hip-hop duo’s wildly popular Body Rock throwdowns. The difference this round was that the show’s focus wasn’t put on any iconic artist like A Tribe Called Quest or Prince. It was on the Riders themselves.
Inside Stubb’s to celebrate the release of their self-titled EP, RAS’ first collection of songs since 2010 debut Speak the Truth, the married duo of Chaka Mpeanaji and Tiger Lily emerged onto the stage shortly after midnight wearing face paint and bright, flashy clothing. The two stormed through cuts from the two efforts, reeling in drummer Tiny Watkins, bassist Elliot Morgan, ATX transplant DJ Riddlore, and a team of dancers from the Ballet Afrique dance troupe before EP opener “Holy Water” ushered in a full-on party.
From the back of the room, the scene felt a whole lot like the parties the two throw the first Friday of each month. Mpeanaji and Lily are natural party starters, artists capable of keeping their rap flow in the face of quick steps and dynamic dance moves. They feed off each other’s energy, redirect that energy into the crowd in ways that the audience can easily interpret, and know how best to fill out a 40-minute set. Last night RAS employed every trick in the hip-hop book, stretching their sound from raucous tracks like “Satellite” to slow-building grooves like “Shake.”
Mpeanaji closed by reminding everybody still in attendance that this week’s party was just getting started. Friday at the Sahara Lounge, the duo pays tribute to the soul legend Stevie Wonder.
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