Albany Hip Hop Outshines Headliner Riff Raff at Jupiter Hall

Local hip hop acts found their beat at Jupiter Hall in Albany, on March 10, sharing the stage with headliner RiFF RAFF. The evening saw multiple acts from the Capital Region of New York bring short, yet effective sets to the futuristic venue tucked inside Lucky Strike at Crossgates Mall.

Interestingly, hardcore metal band Misgiver joined the opening acts with a loud, yet memorable performance. Misgiver’s sound is unexpected at a hip hop show, and certainly memorable and surprising. To their credit, it is certainly difficult to perform as an “outlier” at a show, and with a quick set, they showcased their abilities well.

Along with them, Philly Fine$$e delivered a high strung hip hop set joined by DJ David Acevedo, SwaggyT, and friends. Having streams on songs like “Lonely,” “GUCCI,” and “Like This,” Fine$$e and his fellow performers got the eyes of the crowd in a short amount of time. Their show has entertaining potential, and their music lends itself seamlessly to the club scene and they were received well by the crowd, even in the earlier part of the evening.

Along with Philly Fine$$e, show attendees dove in for Wavy Cunningham & DJ Mercy, a creative duo who mix wide varieties of samples with old school sounds to create a fun, beach-type atmosphere. Their music is a departure from stereotypical thoughts of hip hop being such a serious matter, and in a lot of ways it has the ability to make the listener smile. The two took the stage with huge smiles and vibed with onlookers. They politely commanded their setlist with no pretense, and just played music for enjoyment. People danced, sang along with tracks such as “Mass Appeal,” and stayed open to newer songs such as “1000 Verses.”

The more Wavy and Mercy performed, the larger the crowd got, with audience members even asking for an encore. This energy cleared the path for Clear Mind, who also drew a large following. He released his project, “Swords, Metaphors & Pressure Points,” in November of 2017, which included instrumental production by himself as well as a variety of others.

Clear Mind’s own unique voice is not lost in the wide variety of sounds used in both his live set and his album. His lyrics cover a multitude of modern subjects, including parenthood, love, personal struggles, and more. As many people can relate to these topics, he continued the energy and grew the audience even more. Few artists have the bravery to perform a song acapella — without musical accompaniment — but Clear Mind did, and his seamless infusion of this into his set won him a great deal of respect amongst those unfamiliar with his music.

He, Wavy Cunningham, and DJ Mercy, all set a tone with their common charismatic approach to the stage — their futures as performers, locally and beyond, carry promise. Likewise, DJ duo, The Dropouts, consisting of Eric Whin and David Acevedo, played music from multiple popular artists such as Post Malone, but infused their own mixes and synth parts, just continuing to excite the crowd with their mastery of modern sounds. Their lightshow and visuals, as well as excited persona added to the mix and certainly won the crowd over.

But as the cliche goes, all good things must come to an end. Although it is typically expected that the headliners would have more experience and production value, this did not appear to be the case for RiFF RAFF or 2 Stoned. Their respective shows got stolen by all the opening acts. Although both performed with some professional proficiency, neither went above “ just getting the job done.” 

Since RiFF RAFF and 2 Stoned are both portrayed in media as flamboyant and defiant, one would have thought their sets would have both been more exciting, but this was not the case. Perhaps this may be seen as a rush to judgment by an unfamiliar viewer, but one would think a performer would want to be as interesting or more, than his backing tracks, lightshow, clothes, and hairstyle, but sadly this was not the case. Overall, the headlining part of the show could have been missed in favor of the energetic opening acts.