By Jason Kreloff
In a small town like Oberlin, it’s not often you get the chance to hear a queen of underground rap. So when it was announced that BKTHERULA would perform on Friday, February 21 as a part of WOBIE FEST 2020 at the ‘Sco, devoted fans such as myself were quick to secure a ticket.
BKTHERULA is a blossoming Atlanta artist with hundreds of thousands of streams and tens of thousands of listeners who tune in every month. Her breakout hit, Tweakin’ Together, had the internet buzzing, giving her the coveted title of the “female Duwap” — a serious responsibility, but one which BK won’t let box in her art. At the time of this review, Tweakin’ Together had 370,000+ views on YouTube alone.
Songs from popular artists such as Tisakorean, Roddy Rich, and Pop Smoke brought up the energy before the headlining performance. The ‘Sco’s a small space with little room for echoes, so bass through the massive sound system easily vibrated the entire room and those in it. Next, her DJ, DJ LifeOnMars, played some Chief Keef to hype up the crowd, which prepared everyone for her set. The whole room responded to the MCs’ call: “What u say gang?” (what you say gang!) and BK ordered everyone to move up to the floor in front of the stage.
The 808 or sub-bass from “A Girl IS a Gun” shook the room. The mosh pit began to take on energy as people crashed into each other like bumper cars. Bottomless low frequencies could be felt through one’s body. “Forever,” with HOOK backing the ad libs, was an exciting cool-down moment with its ambient yet driving beat and BK’s light, feathery vocals.
As the night continued, she serenaded the audience with well-known ballads such as “UH HUH,” “Right NOW,” and “ON ME.” Although it was next to impossible not to scream out the lyrics at the top of my lungs, I tried not to for the sake of those nearby. With every bar spit by BK you could see the audience nod their heads strongly in support.
She told the audience the next song would be ‘some trippy shit,’ and We Go In delivered. Released just a few weeks ago, the song features a subterranean 808 which has been highly distorted and its fidelity reduced, making it punch harder than a heavyweight champion. Samples of evil laughs and classic Nintendo and SEGA sound effects used by DJLifeOnMars added to the experience and made it seem as if BK was the final villain of a videogame.
Finally came Tweakin’ Together, a song so popular that she didn’t even have to sing it— instead BK opted to give two fans mics, who happily recited every word for her. The crowd jumped with electricity as people flew into each other in the center of the room, with BK herself in the heart of the moshpit.
Overall BKTHERULA’s performance was second to none, and fulfilling for any major fan of her work. To support her, you can stream her music on all platforms.