Concert review: Waajeed at Blowout, Majestic Café, May 1

Waajeed at Blowout Festival, Majestic Café, May 1st 2015

“I should be at home in my underwear. This shit is over ten years old!” exclaimed Waajeed mid-set at Majestic Cafe, where he performed last night in front of a modest, yet reverent crowd. Jeedo, as he invited us to call him, often comes across as a candid, near self-deprecating kind of guy- a personality you might not expect to accompany one of the most notable figures of the Detroit underground.

But I guess it’s the ghost-writer in him, the “man behind the curtain” mentality of someone who has been performing (Slum Village, Platinum Pied Pipers, Waajeed & The Jazz Kats, etc), producing, beat-making, and collaborating with greats such as the late J. Dilla since the 90s. The mostly sample-driven instrumental set was itself a seamless experience; a dark electronic soundtrack you want to cruise in your car with at 3 a.m., with obvious roots in funk, jazz and Motown soul that, at times, was verging on industrial, and (not kidding) kraut at others.

At one point, he let the crowd know he was going to settle the “discrepancies” that hovered around the question of whether he created the beat behind “Crushin,” a J. Dilla hit off the album Ruff Draft. He played thirty seconds of the track (which features a sample from Sylvia Robinson’s “Sweet Stuff” sped up and chopped) and answered, “Hell yeah I did.” “Okay enough of that,” he continued and dove right back into the dark instrumental wave, leaving us wondering if the fleeting moment was a competitive jibe, an affectionate ode to, or somewhere in the middle.

It’s the same kind of clever ambivalence that dominated his set, which featured throwback tracks off of albums B.P.M., Triple P, and The War. The night ended leaving you even more curious about the process behind this MPC wizard and his dollar record beat digging days in the D.

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