Although Nappy Roots have dropped three albums since their 2002 debut, no subsequent release has generated as many charting singles or made the same social impact as Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz. Friday’s hour-long performance by the group at The Vogue squeezed in a lot of well-known classics from said breakout album, as well as lesser-known tracks and covers to keep it interesting.
The Kentucky-born band, known for their hometown pride and honest subject matter, played a shortened version of Watermelon hit “Po’ Folks” early on in the show. Later, they rapped about addiction saying, “I love my reefer, love my Guinness,” on “No Static” from 2008’s The Humdinger. The song transitioned into an instrumental version of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” before looping back to “No Static” with the crushing line “Too much of anything makes you an addict.”
The Nappy boys weren’t all business and truth-talking, though. They got rambunctious during an amusing rendition of “Headz Up” that left the audience covered in a shower of champagne. It got plain buck inside The Vogue when Nappy Roots played the long-awaited “Aww Naww”: everyone sang along, energy surged on the dance floor and all five members stood in a row to perform a choreographed jig as the song came to a close.
Most of all, Nappy Roots made it clear that they are supremely excited for their upcoming release Nappy.org, produced by southern hitmakers Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown of Organized Noize.
And then, suddenly, it was over. Members disappeared one by one with no fanfare or pomp until the DJ remained as the lone soul on stage. It wasn’t until he played “All of the Lights” and I started to see members of Nappy Roots hanging out in the balcony that I finally realized they were done performing and that the show was over.
Opening act Audio Dax played a set nearly as long as the evening’s headlining group, using much of it to show off tracks from their latest release, Pop Rocks. The emcee duo lived up to their reputation for bringing a crowd, even if it was entirely comprised of fraternity brothers and DePauw students. Their productions are tight and Krypton FLO’s rap skills are solid, but Temble’s vocals require strengthening on the low end and the pair could benefit from a more engaging stage presence.