The Austin Chronicle

Weird City Hip-Hop Live Shot: Phranchyze, Jean Grae, Homeboy Sandman

By Nina Hernandez, September 28, 2014, 2:47pm, Earache!

Saturday, kicking off Weird City’s inaugural year in the company of veteran, East Coast MCs, Austin’s locals delivered with passionate, political verse, and body-shaking grooves.

Fire breather Phranchyze makes his living sparring with the audience. His usual touchdown dance after every song (“I am Phranchyze, and I am not done!”) suffered within the confines of the truncated set, but “Hennessy & Horchata,” the Austin rapper’s guide to turning up, had sweat pouring down his neck and a growing crowd at his feet. Riders Against the Storm then electrified with a dynamic new track, “Booty Sweat,” which delivers on the title’s promise.

Ten to midnight, the first of two New Yorkers closing down Empire Control Room, Pharoahe Monch and Jean Grae, sauntered out. The latter took her place as mistress of ceremonies and demanded undivided attention. And she’s exacting.

When the MC invites fans onstage to dance, she warns them they better know how. One volunteer couldn’t catch the beat, drawing her attention. Grae’s onstage persona then melted away when the woman admitted until recently she was confined to a wheelchair with lupus.

“I’ve got tears in my eyes,” admitted the rapper. “You’re ruining my street cred, Faith.”

Classics from her almost two decades of hustle engulfed the crowd. At the finale, she hopped down from the stage and led the audience in “Soul Train.” In an interview last week, Jean Grae hit the nail on the head: “I think Austin’s a fun city, and we go well together.”

As Monch lit up Empire next, Queens MC Homeboy Sandman closed up across the street at Red 7 to a thin crowd. Low key beats enhance the spitter’s intense cerebral flow, and there’s none of the urgent dancing on this side of E. Seventh. He sent veterans of Austin’s first hip-hop festival home with noodles for brains.

Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.