Up-and-coming artists are constantly inventing new ways to get themselves the exposure they rightfully deserve in the world of hip-hop music, and that’s exactly what rapper Rich Robbins is doing in his first headlining show in Madison. Feb. 26, the Chicago native and UW-Madison graduate will be holding a concert unlike anything before.
The concept for the show is fairly simple: Take an album, erase the old guest appearances, then perform the entirety of the album live with all new artists. What makes the idea so original is that all of the new artists will be local musicians, some hailing straight from the UW-Madison campus scene and some from the surrounding Madison area. A total of 16 local musicians will be involved in the show that is being called Nimbus 2.0 in reference to the title of Rich Robbins’ 2015 album, Nimbus.
What makes this show so unique isn’t the vast amount of artists involved; there have been shows with countless performers in the past. Instead, what makes this idea one of a kind is the way in which the musicians will be used. Typical concerts tend to have a lesser-known group set as an opener for the main act, but the Nimbus 2.0 show is completely abandoning the concept of having openers. Performers who would originally be considered openers will now get their chance to shine in the middle of the show. All of the artists who have a part on the new version of Nimbus will perform their respective verses, and some will even have an allotted amount of time to show off their own work.
The show is more than just an attempt to get larger support for everyone involved. According to Rich, what it’s really about is bridging gaps. The idea for the show is genius in the sense that each artist will have their own unique group of supporters coming to see them. By taking advantage of a larger, more diverse audience, each artist can begin to branch out and reach new people with their music. Everyone performing has their own style, message and sound, and this has the potential to be an extremely effective, yet simple approach to connecting different people.
The set list will start and end the same way the original Nimbus album does, but you won’t know who is going on stage when or what song they’ll even be featured on. Because of this, the crowd is going to be exposed to every artist who’s going to be on stage, and that’s the beauty of it. With a combination of styles including live instruments, old school beats and even new-wave instrumentals, concertgoers will get one of the most diverse shows they’ve ever seen.
In an interview with Rich Robbins and two of the other artists, Chis LaBella and Taniesha Broadway, they spoke on some of their influences and what they’re hoping the show accomplishes.
Daily Cardinal: “Who are some of your biggest influences in terms of music?”
Rich Robbins: “I would say Kanye West, Lauryn Hill and Michael Jackson are the three top people that have influenced my music. Those three artists are huge influences for me. I want to be as impactful on the stage as Michael Jackson, but as narrative as Lauryn Hill, and as musical as Kanye is.”
Taniesha Broadway: “I’m more like a boom bap. More like a Pac. More like a Bone Thugz. I grew up listening to Johnny Taylor and all that really old school type of music.”
Chris LaBella: “Some of my biggest influences were Jurassic 5, Kanye West, and all the way to Led Zeplin and Nirvana and The Beatles. That’s kinda what has brought me to where I am with the band and doing all the live instrumentation.”
DC: “What are you looking forward to about the concert?”
RR: “This is just a start. When we were initially thinking of the concept of the show we wanted it to be like the end of Nimbus. This is what’s gonna get Nimbus the attention we wanted it to get in a way that’s positive for our surroundings and our environment. Once we’re done with that we can set it aside and move forward with how we can progress things. I’m most excited to see what happens after the show. As excited as I am for the show, I think some beautiful things are going to happen afterwards.”
TB: “I’m excited to vibe with all the different artists and share that one stage. That’s what I’m mostly excited about. Going out there and just rocking with the crowd. Building collaborations hopefully, too. I feel like a lot of people are going to be talking about it. I feel like its going to shake up Madison a little bit.”
CL: “The Madison scene, the Wisconsin scene overall has a lot of talent and lot of people doing a lot of big things right now. I think this is a really great idea to get a lot of those people in the same room at the same time, just all on stage as part of a single project. I think that in itself is just a beautiful thing. It’s like a super group.”
Ben, one of Rich’s friends said, “It’s going to be like Woodstock, but hip-hop.” As if a show of this caliber featuring all local artists wasn’t enough, it’s also completely free. The show starts at 8:30 Feb. 26 in the Play Circle in Memorial Union. However, the venue only has a capacity of 250 people, so be sure to get there early because there’s no doubt it will fill up quickly. Make sure you don’t miss out on this show filled with an outrageous amount of talent.