Never before has a musical act de-facto opened for themself. That is until Camden Malik — a self-made rapper and producer from Sacramento, California — performed a song by his late friend prior to beginning his official performance. Although the concert took place on the cold, brisk evening of February 25th at Oberlin College’s Dionysus Club, more colloquially known as The ‘Sco, when Malik asked the audience to “f***” with him, the winter night instantly felt summerlike.
Malik’s official setlist began with Uber which seemed a bit of a misnomer. On first listen, you might expect this song to be about ride-sharing, but no such theme ostensibly emerged. Instead, Malik recited the main refrain, “first they love you, then they hate you; it’s crazy how they do you.” With lyrics like these, Uber might as well have been conceived of as a counterintuitive diss track chiding the concept of independent contracting and — by extension — anti-uber.
After thanking the audience for ‘f***ing’ with him, Malik presented the highlight of the show. Unlike Uber, the song had no title, but its theme was all about keeping things real and staying patient in spite of the craziness and obstacles that life relentlessly supplies. Malik’s frenzied delivery seemed as though its sole purpose was to match this relentless energy, and the beat’s minor-keyed acoustic guitar displayed an incomparable menace that was a force to be reckoned with. Not only was it a musical standout, it also starkly contrasted the summery beats of the songs that preceded and followed it.
The evening concluded with the artist prefacing his “favorite unreleased song” by saying, “we gonna go crazy real quick.” Over a somber piano and banging 808s, Malik’s polyrhythmic and beautifully enunciated rhymes about comparing his people’s struggles to his own flowed effortlessly. By way of bringing his instrumental and lyrical heat from Sacramento to Oberlin, Malik may not have literally tilted Earth, but he was successful in temporarily tilting the audience’s perception of the planet in relation to the sun — toward rather than away from it.