After grinding in the Minneapolis hip-hop scene for over ten years, the local favorite, Prof has recently begun to make serious national traction on the back of his unique recordings, video content and must see live shows. The 4th consecutive year of Rhymesayers/ Stophouse Music Group event, PROF Outdoors, took place Saturday, September 9th at The Cabooze in Minneapolis.
Although Alex, Harley, and I attended the same event, we each had vastly different experiences at PROF Outdoors. We find it only fair we assemble these three perspectives into one cohesive review. Let us begin!
As I first approached the gates for PROF Outdoors 4, I was pleasantly surprised by the large line of eager attendees that had formed outside of the gates. Arriving about a half hour after gates first opened, I took my place in a line that was about 100 people deep, and waited my turn. This was my first time attending a PROF Outdoors show, and my first time seeing a show at The Cabooze’s Outdoor Plaza, so I had plenty of things to focus my attention on while in line.
Almost immediately, I was shocked by the overall size of this event. This was a huge production, and it certainly lived up to its name, The Biggest Show In The History Of PROF. I have no reference point to gauge how much this show has grown over the last four years, but a few of the people in line near me assured me that this was the biggest they’d seen yet.
I got through the gates just in time to see Shannon Blowtorch, the DJ of the day who played sets in-between performances, wrap up and watched Peter Parker, the events MC, walk out to welcome local-rapper and Stophouse Music artist Cashinova. I quickly walked up near the stage and took my place next to a large group of dedicated PROF fans leaning on the gates near the stage, clearly ready to stand in that one spot of the next six hours.
The last time I saw Cashinova was on PROF’s Time Bomb tour which took place earlier this year. As a fan of his music, it has been fun to watch his career evolve over the last couple years, and his performance on Saturday seemed to be a culmination of all of it. His high-energy performance was a great way to kick off PO4, and got everyone hyped up and ready to rage the rest of the night.
After Cashinova wrapped up his electric set, I took the opportunity to leave the crowd and check out the rest of the grounds. Unfortunately for me, due to a lightning quick change over, I missed the first few songs of Finding Novyon’s set because I was relieving myself in the very luxurious porta-potties and checking out the merch tents.
There was a noticeably larger crowd for Finding Novyon’s set, and I had to settle for a spot a little further from the stage. I will admit I am pretty naïve when it comes to Novyon’s music, as the only other time I saw him was also on PROF’s Time Bomb tour, and I was fairly inebriated at that point. From what I can tell, however, he absolutely killed it, and the two gentlemen who were standing next bumped into me many times from jumping and flailing around, so I’ll take that as a positive.
Next up was Mac Lethal, and this was arguably the performance I was most excited about. Many know Mac as a viral video star, often dropping videos such as this one, where he imitates 27 different styles of rapping all in seven minutes, or this one, where he attempts to rap for 90-seconds straight without taking a breath.
However, unknown to most, Mac Lethal has been a staple in the Kansas City rap scene since the 90’s, and even released an album on Rhymesayers in 2007. This was his first performance at PROF Outdoors, and he pulled out all the stops.
As soon as he stepped on stage, he broke out into some of his fast-rapping skills and blew the crowd away with not only his quickness but also with how clear he speaks. It’s easy to get lost when rapping like he does, but Mac is a trained professional and is great at what he does.
Then, after performing a lullaby he wrote for his 1-year-old daughter, where he pleads with her to go to sleep so he can bang her mom, Mac jumped into the crowd and onto another mans shoulders to perform the song from the viral video that made him most famous, the Chris Brown parody where he flips pancakes while rapping. He also tells the crowd that Chris Brown attempted to sue him over this song, prompting the crowd to break into a chant of “Fuck Chris Brown” to Mac’s delight.
Mac wrapped up his set with a performance of the aforementioned “27 Styles Of Rapping” video, which he told the crowd he was performing for a fan that promised to be in attendance all the way from Sweden IF he performed the song. Before we knew it, his 40 minutes were up, and it was on to the next performance.
There are certain things you don’t necessarily expect to happen in life, and one of those things is seeing a former headliner turned opener. The first time I ever saw Prof was at the Fine Line where he was opening for Mac Lethal and completely stole the show, seven years later and my how the tables have turned. Mac and Prof make a good team though, and seeing Mac perform since he’s blown up on YouTube made for an interesting dynamic filled with fast raps, fun stories, and just plain good entertainment.
It was after Mac’s set that I gave in to my need to find sustenance. The Underachievers would come on next and unfortunately, I wasn’t hip to their music, so I bounced on them in favor of waiting in line for an ATM before waiting in an even longer line to get some corn on the cob (the show was farm themed, after all). What glimpses of The Underachiever’s set I did catch left me feeling, sadly, underwhelmed. Their energetic style of party rap sounds like it would fit nicely into a roster with Prof in theory, but personally, I just wasn’t vibing with it. However, I can respect the fact that this line-up had so many different styles of hip hop to offer the crowd.
I’m running late, here. I’ve been dragged along to this show very last minute – an old friend from high school hit me up out of the blue – and we spent the first hour of the show shacked up in my apartment with a bottle of brandy (don’t ask me why) and seven or eight years of catching up to do.
We finally hit the train around seven PM and as soon as we step off, I realize I didn’t know what I was getting into. There are about a million Prof fans out here and everyone is already getting wild. The stage is dead when we get through – just a house DJ and stagehands changing the set – but it’s a mad house, nonetheless. My buddy and I pop into the Whiskey for a quick shot of Rumplemintz (again, don’t ask) flavored courage and make our way out there.
The vibe is heavy out here and I’m feeling the full pressure of the crowd from all sides. Somebody new is on stage now and they’ve grabbed the mic. I’m lost in this conversation about how totally cool it was, that one time in ninth grade etc., when I hear “POS and SIMS in the house put your hands in the air for SHREDDERS!!” and conversation is abruptly terminated as the beat drops in.
This is dope, I haven’t been to a rap show in too damn long and the bass is heavy out here and my hands are up. I haven’t seen POS and Sims on stage together since one of the Doomtree Blowouts two or three or maybe five years back. This group just dropped so the music is fresh and I don’t know any of the words but I hear POS say “I’m doing donuts in an ACURA, in slow motion, BITCH” and I’m laughing deliriously to the rhythm. Only POS can craft something so simultaneously funny and hard hitting. I’m in love.
Shredders wrap up and I come back down to earth – I’ve gotten separated from my friend somehow and I’m surrounded by strange, smiling faces. By the time I hunt him down PROF is on stage and we hurl ourselves back through the crowd to get as close as we can.
“I’m so good at rap it just ain’t even fair/alright Minneapolis put your hands in the air!” Done. I’m just riding the waves now, lost in it. After a couple songs, I feel my phone buzzing in my pocket – my friend – “I’m too drunk, come find me.” I hadn’t even realized he was no longer behind me. I guess I’ve got to go take him home now. Until next time, PROF.
There are few things in life that you could ever do that would be more fun than seeing Prof live. Whether he’s opening or headlining he always puts on a performance worth remembering and gives it his all, and on the spectrum of all his shows, Prof Outdoors is a special kind of animal. A headlining performance that at this point has taken the shape of a mini Soundset, there is always some sort of theme. Anyone watching Prof’s antics on Snapchat knew leading up to this night that the theme would be, well, a farm. No one knew exactly what that meant for the show though.
What it meant was that Prof would literally enter the stage on a small tractor, but not before an opening skit complete with set pieces, actors, and a large screen in the background to set the scene. This is the kind of innovative stuff you’re not going to get at your run-of-the-mill hip hop show. Once Prof took the stage and began rapping the crowd exploded into a frenzy and the world around us seemed to stop, encapsulating the Cabooze Outdoor Plaza in only these glorious moments.
As the show continued it seemed clear that Prof was using this show as an opportunity to workshop some new things into his set. I recall at a show earlier this year at First Ave Prof declared that changes were coming, and this really seemed to reflect that.
A lot of the usual beats that a veteran Prof-attendee would expect were either gone or tweaked in favor of new songs, new banter, and new shenanigans. I have no doubt that anyone who was experiencing Prof for the first time was absolutely blown away by the performance, but as someone who has been here before it was clear that some tightening up needed to be done.
Of course, it’s always hard to gauge how well a show is going when you’re performing a large number of new songs, rendering it difficult for the crowd to participate. To me, this felt like a precursor to what will eventually become an even bigger monster of a show down the line once Prof’s new album drops. This was acknowledged by the man himself on stage as he, eager to satiate our anticipation, announced to us for the first time the title of his upcoming record: Pookie Baby.
As the show rounded the corner of the third act of the narrative that had been integrated into the show Prof brought what felt like a hundred people on stage to hype him during his last couple songs.
Friends, family, other performers, and even a cameo from Nick Swardson as the antagonist of the story, everyone was getting hyped while Prof closed out with a bang performing President and Apeshit back to back. Though the set definitely felt new, I left Prof Outdoors 4 with a smile on my face, and about 30,000 “steps” in my FitBit. Thanks, Prof.