The Knux/Dead Prez

SXSW showcase reviews

The Knux/Dead Prez

Vice/Austin Music Hall, March 21

Though it fades slightly on the back end, last year's Remind Me in 3 Days ... was one of the most promising albums of 2008, hard-copy proof that hip-hop can sound like 1996 even if artists can't afford to use samples anymore. Knux brothers Krispy Kream and Rah Almillio layed down completely original material, used live instrumentation almost exclusively, and made 3 Days sound like OutKast's ATLiens. That's what made it so disappointing to see the NOLA natives start album opener "The List" with a DJ handling the drum duties and a guitarist and keyboardist riffing like session players. Krispy and Rah made up for it with their charisma, ripping through "Cappuccino," "Bang! Bang!," and "F!re (Put It in the Air)" in tandem like inspirations Big Boi and Andre 3000. Headlining at the Austin Music Hall, Tallahassee, Fla., duo Dead Prez ripped through abbreviated versions of "Radio Frequency," "That's War," and "Assassination Day" but couldn't hold the attention of a crowd visibly fatigued at the Festival's finish line. Only set closer "Hip-Hop" whipped the audience into a frenzy. The rest was too methodical, uninspired, and split up by too much Dead Prez banter between tracks. Goes to show it was a long weekend for everybody.

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