After a year of no shows, Out Da House Productions made a highly anticipated comeback last Saturday with a bill to get everyone in the underground hip-hop scene talking. Headlining was 2mex, a 30-year legend in the industry, along with Awol One of Shape Shifters and group member of The Visionaries, LMNO. A line of eager fans wrapped around the La Santa building, buzzing about the historic night ahead.
At 7pm, attendees were ushered down the red-lit staircase and made their way to the bar. DJ Mark Luv turned up the music to the point you could feel it beating in your chest. His turntable sat on top of a classic cherry red Chevy Impala, with a license plate that read “West Coast”.
Tone Dog Raw and Aoimback hopped on stage to warm up the crowd, as they were the first openers of the night. The audience fixated their eyes onto the stage, sipping on Modelo Especial. As the room began to fill up it reminded us of the days before the pandemic. The energy in the room was all so familiar.
The next opener was Eric Vintage who performed alongside Maliner, both of whom brought an energetic performance to the stage. Next artist Zenaloa freestyled the line, “we turn to music when we don’t have shit. We will always have this. The movement, the music.” The audience cheered in agreement.
Shortly after, LMNO arrives. The crowd surged towards the stage and greeted him with smiles and cheers. He jumped right into the performance with a song the audience knows by heart as they chant the chorus “Do That Shit!” in unison and high-spirit. After the song, LMNO told the audience to take a moment of silence for those who haven’t made it with us, reminding you of his humble character. He then gave a shout out to his group member 2mex stating, “He’s my brother. He’s all our brother” before ending his set with L-O-V-E.
Awol One followed and greeted the audience with his deep, warm voice as he took a bow of gratitude. Throughout his performance, the audience continuously bobbed their heads when playing songs like “Rhythm” until he changed the vibe; performing a cover of “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Everyone sang along and cheered in an uproarious approval of the classic, including myself. He then incorporated a sublime song with a 1-2 beat, singing, “you got to celebrate being alive.”
A deafening applause erupted when 2Mex graced the stage as every person in the room began to chant his name. Founder of Out Da House Productions, Droops, gave a memorable speech honoring 2Mex and giving him credit for starting the lineage that made modern artists like Kendrick Lamar. The audience huddled together, put their arms around each other, and gazed at 2mex while he adjusted the mic. Within his first couple of songs, 2Mex cited vulnerable lyrics that addressed topics like love, suicide, mental illness and government corruption. You could tell that every person in that room resonated with his lyrics in some way.
The crowd remained electric throughout his entire performance when he rapped songs like “Paranoia Sheik” and “The Fresh Depression Anthem”, but sang their hearts out to his remix of “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer. Another chant erupted, shouting his name over and over again.
Despite the fact he had surgery the night before and left little time to recover, 2Mex ended his set with a freestyle that had the audience clinging to every word with adoration. He put so much energy and life into his last song until he couldn’t speak another word. Members in the front reached out to extend their love, hoping to hear him one last time before he goes. He gives the audience strong eye contact and thanks them for their support, letting them know he hears and feels every prayer, every positive thought, and every bit of love they give him.
Although it was my first time seeing 2Mex perform, I have never witnessed such a dedicated artist. An artist who uses their platform to speak the truth, spread positivity, and cultivate an environment of love. But I guess that’s what underground hip-hop is all about. It’s a movement, a culture, and the foundation of the hip-hop we see today.