Thursday, July 28th, skate shop chain Zumiez teamed up with design/apparel company Sketchy Tank to throw a free banger of a bash at Boston’s Royale. Included among the festivities were free tattoos, tie-dying shirts, and riding floor scooters into aluminum trash cans (with helmets of course!).

The main attraction, however, was a ridiculous lineup of hip-hop-leaning artists from across the spectrum – Ho99o9, Denzel Curry, and Ghostface Killah each graced the stage over the course of the night. Ho99o9 brought an unparalleled energy, blending the extreme aggression and instrumentation of hardcore punk with elements of hip-hop and industrial (sample pad, heavy bass presence, gritty synths), and a darker lyrical bent. Live drumming and a more abrasive vocal style brought Ho99o9’s vitriolic recorded material to an even higher level of energy. The crowd went wild from the first hint of feedback in “Street Power” as the floor erupted into a swirling mass of kids in their late teens jumping around and pushing into each other, bringing a scene normally played out at punk or metal shows to an audience that was more into rap and converting fans along the way.

Fresh on the heels of a fantastic new EP titled 13, Denzel Curry took the stage next. Representing the newer wave of hip-hop and rap, Curry took an already amped crowd and turned them up even more. Thrashing around the stage, he played cuts from this new EP, his internet-famous and ultimate banger “Ultimate,” a couple older songs, and some tracks from his recently re-released album Imperial. Though his stage presence definitely featured a blend of his sense of humor, it was as intense as the artists he followed. His fairly quick rise through the ranks of the underground into the mainstream has been well deserved – in a live setting, Denzel Curry is a formidable performer, unleashing lyrical barrages on the audience without allowing them any sort of reprieve.

Though a majority of the crowd appeared to be there for Denzel Curry, most people stuck around to witness the legendary Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang Clan lay down some tracks. Performing for about an hour with the help of his friend and frequent collaborator Sheek Louch, he bounced through both classic Wu Tang tracks (“C.R.E.A.M.”, “Shame On A N****”, etc) and some of the duo’s new material. At one point, he even brought three people from the crowd onto stage to do verses of some Wu Tang members not present, and, surprisingly, they all killed it. Though lower energy, Ghostface commanded the stage with a presence that only comes from decades of rocking the mic. He represented the old guard of hip-hop and brought a groovier set, showcasing tracks that originally paved the way for the other artists featured in the showcase.


When he's not out in the woods, clomping around in streams, or looking at shiny rocks, you can find our U.S. Managing Editor and contributing photographer Nathan Katsiaficas in the photo pit, covering everything from heavy metal to punk, alternative, indie, and hip-hop.