The spare, modern courtyard at LACMA transformed into a bass-thumping hip hop venue Thursday night.
Rap trio 3MG (Murs, Eligh and Scarub) performed together for the first time in five years, drawing about 1,000 underground hip hop fans to the fine arts bastion.
The event was the first in a series of hip hop concerts called “Through The Mic,” a performance schedule focused on Los Angeles acts, curated by Murs. It’s also LACMA’s boldest attempt thus far to directly engage the local hip hop community.
On stage, LACMA program head Jason Gaulton began the evening by inviting the audience to check out Chris Burden’s Metropolis II installation in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) on the premises. He also encouraged them to sign up for free summer passes to LACMA after the concert. Gaulton proclaimed, “Tonight, hip hop graduates. Tonight it is fine art.”
It wasn’t a seamless transition. After some light applause among the pierced, tattooed and mostly quiet young audience, someone in the crowd jeered, “Who are you?!”
But no matter. Cheers and chronic quickly filled the air when 3MG bounded on stage, backlit by the museum’s iconic “Urban Light” installation. Scarub’s opening set quickly had hundreds of hands in the air and Eligh dazzled with rapid speed verses. Of course, it was Murs who led the audience in the most spirited exchange of the night.
His rendition of Easy-E’s 1986 classic “Boyz-N-The-Hood” transformed the crowd into a chorus, and his West Coast anthem “L.A.” had everyone — from the audience to Ray’s and Stark diners to security guards — throwing “W” signs up in the sky.
After the concert, about 200 people signed up for LACMA’s free summer membership, and several dozen sauntered over to BCAM to marvel at Metropolis II. Maybe Gaulton was right about that graduation. Of course, it probably helped that Murs did his fan meet-and-greet just a few feet away from the installation.
Through The Mic’s next event takes place June 21, and features Koreatown rapper Dumbfoundead and LA legend Medusa. Tickets cost $10 for LACMA members and $15 for general admission.