“What you really want? A show or an authentic flow?” sang Apaso at Limelight on April 23.
Celebrating the release of his first full-length, Illaments (on Acquired Taste Preferred Records), the decade-plus-in-the-game MC waited as long as it took for a Limelight slot to open to do the release party right. In 1999, he got into his first rap battle sans a proper rap moniker (but with a bellyfull of cinnamon schnapps) in the same venue when it was called Wacky’s. He went up against an MC named Taz, whose rap group headlined that night. Apaso’s virgin battle not only featured an experienced MC as an opponent, but also the guy’s fans. Apaso recalled that he named himself “Ugz” on the fly, on account of the shoes he was wearing and how he warned at the time “It’s about to get UG-ly in here.”
Twelve years later (with a hiatus from 2007-09), Apaso returned to the venue that he considers hallowed ground to perform a fiery set. His new record is full of frill-less, straight-forward hip-hop cuts that go to great lengths to define Apaso as a San Antonio everyman. He described himself as “reportin’ the facts like Gideon” while repping his hometown on “4 Da 210.” He turned a famed folk insult into a badge of honor on “Necio Flow.” He elicited a big sing-along on set closer “One Tequila,” which featured a timely and hilarious appearance from a pretty El Perrito promo girl bearing shots for the performers. Post-show, Apaso explained the song originally featured references to Cuervo, but the El Perrito CEO heard the song and asked them to re-record it with an El Perrito plug instead. Apaso added that a music video that may feature a parody on Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World is in the works.
Apaso had DJ Tech-Neek on the decks and was, by turns, flanked by MCs Doc Gonzo, Kizer Soze, and Max Edman, who encouraged Apaso to return to rap in late 2009. Though Apaso’s cuts are heavy on the headphone side (with an emphasis on straight beats and lyricism that doesn’t always translate well to the stage), his energy more than compensated. Regarding his question about flows and shows, he was obviously feeding the crowd a false binary. Apaso proved he can deliver both.