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10 Things You Should NEVER Do While Performing


Let me paint a picture for you. I was born and raised in N.Y.C. – Brooklyn to be exact. That means I live in a city that folks all across the world travel to get to and get to see things that most have to pay money for. That’s the mind state I was in when I walked into Webster Hall in Union Square. Because, you know, there’s nothing quite like the idea that you’re wasting your life to make you hop a train on a Wednesday night to check some Hip-Hop. A gang of hungry artists opening, a G.O.O.D. artist in Desiigner for a headliner…What could go wrong?

What I got was definitely entertaining… but not the kind I was expecting. I walked in, found a spot to post up and after the show started, came face to face with non-stop mistakes, bloopers, blunders and levels of fuckery that, much like a car accident, was gruesome as hell but I couldn’t look away from.

I did what any faced with an unending show man would do… I tweeted through it.

And welp, hundreds of RT’s and a 20 second clip later, I stumbled in the door, turned on the computer and came up with this list. Ladies and gentlemen… 10 Things no rapper should EVER do at a live show.

1) NEVER go on stage without a plan.

There was a brother performing named Yung Nate (@YungNate) who put on a hell of a show. How did he do it though? Strippers? Magic? Special effects? Nope, he just used this thing called rehearsal. And because of it, he was able to rock the crowd and keep the energy going because there was no reason to turn to the DJ, while on the mic, and asking what song was coming up next. It would take you one session to write them down or work out cues. And when the songs come up? Make sure you…

2) NEVER run out of breath on the mic.

It’s the A-1 sign of a rookie. If you’re performing in front of a paying crowd, they deserve a clean performance. You should have run through it enough to know the places where you’ll need to take a breath. With that in mind, you should….

3) NEVER perform a song you haven’t memorized.

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen to the best of them, but you shouldn’t be a crutch. If you can’t take the time to learn your OWN SONG, Why the hell should anyone else try to? If this is what you want to do for a living, you literally have nothing better to do. Unfortunately, lazy/wack rappers would rather look for a way out than put in the work. Which leads us to another cheap trick for lames…

4) NEVER rap over the vocal track.

If you’re a little behind, a little ahead, a little louder, a little quieter, if you don’t completely sync up with the vocals on the track, your rhymes will sound like shit on a stick. Spoiler alert? You’re never ever going o sync up with it completely. You also leave yourself zero wiggle room during the flow which is another problem if you wan to get creative and switch up a line or freestyle about a chick in the crowd or a label exec that’s watching. Of course you can eliminate the need for back up vocals with a good hype man. But if you’ve got one, make sure the two of you…

5) NEVER talk over each other on the mic.

You decide to address the crowd in between songs. But while you’re setting up the next record, your hype-man is asking which hood is in the house, or if the ladies run the club or where all the real niggas are or anything else to make you both sound and look like a couple of unorganized ASSHOLES. Any crowd they came to be entertained is pretty much going to tune you both out… probably by talking amongst themselves… and wishing you’d both STFU. One sure way to avoid that…

6) NEVER have a hype man that wants to be the star.

The job of a hype man is to amplify your performance, provide some fun back and forth and make sure the light on you doesn’t dull. Not take over the middle of the stage, keep the louder mic and basically battle you for YOUR set. The second it feels more like a competition than cooperation? GET RID OF HIM. It’s not a matter of ego, it’s a matter of fact. There can only be ONE star on stage. Speaking of which…

7) NEVER have as many dudes on stage as there are in the crowd.

Remember rule number six? Yeah, multiply that times the Million Man March. If you need more than one hype-man and your DJ, you are NOT ready. You’re supposed to move the crowd, be the microphone controller… MC, get it? YOUR skills are supposed to get the crowd amped up. Nothing else. And with that in mind…

8) NEVER use the name of the headliner to get you applause.

@KadeemKing_ had no problem getting the people to cheer him on. In fact he was so focused on getting his own applause that night, he never once shouted out the headliner. But if the only time the audience cheers for you is when you shout out the guy you’re opening for? You’re failing miserably and everybody knows it. There’s nothing lamer than hearing “Who’s ready to see (Insert headliner here) tonight??” only to have you do one more non-applaudable song. But basically, all of these rules can be summed up by one thing…

9) NEVER EVER treat the crowd as if they owe you something.

Nobody got dressed, came out, stood on a line and paid good money to marvel at how fly you are, listen to your war stories or watch you enjoy yourself. They came to this venue be entertained by you. You owe them your best effort. You owe them all your energy, your professionalism, your respect and your gratitude. And so does the stage. By the way…

10) NEVER go on tour with ONLY ONE SONG TO PERFORM.

Chill Desiigner. Panda ain’t “Ni**as In Paris.”

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  • Eric Emajor Jackson

    That list is 100% rt

  • NYComicBookGuy

    This is the realist article I’ve seen on AHH in a long damn time! Good Job!

  • This is cool. Only one I don’t feel a 100 about is the one of rapping over the vocals, if you lower the vocals on the track and you’ve memorized your song to the point where you are spitting over the track as close to 100% sync as possible it can sound dope especially if you don’t have or want a hype man but other wise yeah it can be horrible. But all else is spot on.

    • atle fjeldstad

      Rapping over vocals suck every time.. It seems to me that you have a low expectancy of the shows you go to. Probably because MOST rappers suck live

      • not at all my expectations would be the same as any other paying consumer or fan… to each his own though. But I have seen regular dudes and professionals spit over the track with the vocals LOWERED and it sounded good to me. The key word is LOWERED vocals where it is not overpowering or equivalent of the actual rhymers voice, it just serves more as a softer adlib. Yet, I can agree that MOST rap shows I’ve been too the audio has sucked.

      • atle fjeldstad

        The problem with “lowering the vocals is that they often use a filter on the original song, that takes out the frequences and also taking away from the actual audio quality. I saw camron about a year ago and he did it that way, and it kind of took away from the energy of the instrumental. Go see snoop dogg or redman do a show, then go to a show with a guy that raps over vocals. I think using the hook vocal is ok, maybe adlibs, but all that can be coordinated.

      • I see what you’re saying, I think it has to be broken down into separate tracks so that you have the original recording no effects etc… you lower that and rock the track at normal levels and it works fine… obviously there’s nothing better than a raw, live, clear performance. But if done correctly by someone who has mastered their verse spitting over the vocals can be dope as well. I actually like the effect that vocals give the song as the performer is rockin his/her verse.

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  • onehunglo

    Girls love red peckas

  • atle fjeldstad

    was that the hype man? that`s too hype man..

  • Andrew Mcallister

    About time we read something passionate and good in this site, that video though…wtf is this man doing!?

  • RayStantz

    Good article. I don’t totally agree with having 100 dudes on stage. No, all of them should not have a mic but in most cases I rather see a crowded stage than just one person walking back and forth. I was mesmerized the first time I saw the Wu perform. Kanye’s All Day performance was live because he had a 100 niggas on stage with a flame thrower.

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  • bigdoe6

    Keep these kinda articles coming. Leave all the gossip crap to the other sites.

  • UdonNo

    back in the day artists had to work hard for your money. Now all you gotta do is grab ur nuts and dab on stage– and niggas go wild. smh.

  • I’m about to show my age here but I remember when we use to record on TAPES and had to spit everything LIVE no breaks – soon as MC 1 is done with verse, get off the mic as da hook is already being done by the those assigned to it and MC 2 jumps right in… EVERYTHING LIVE, it was CRAZY! lol…. man we’ve come a long way.