“Look at where we at….we here,” DOE said to no one in particular. It was minutes before he took the stage at the National. He was in front of a hometown crowd and for a brief second, he was standing alone. His high school classmate and friend Wes Tatum had just led Against Grace through a energizing performance and after about 4 hours of rock bands – the only artist left to perform was the hip hop musician/mogul representing the Burg.
I didn’t confused his self-talk for nerves. It was clear to me that DOE was not nervous. He was humbled. He was taking it all in. If you’ve ever seen him perform before you’d know that he is a seasoned performer. His performances are high-energy and he carries a strong stage presence. But this night was different. His name was outside on the marquee – DJ Foot was on duty – and there were a lot (a lot) of D.O.E. shirts in the audience. They had come out specifically to see him. This show was different – it is exactly where DOE The Paperboy wanted to be. It’s what he has been working for – it wasn’t nerves it was just a realization that he was where he wanted to be. And he was about to rip the stage.
The show itself was a bit of a blur..DOE pulled out all the stops and spared no expense to make his performance one of the best of his career. I had several favorite moments but none better than DOE pulling a dedicated young fan/and fellow emcee out of the crowd to go toe to toe performing one of DOE’s tracks. It was an amazing moment during a hip hop show – you just don’t see that type of support for a so-called” local” artist…that moment is what superstars do. It was unique and really cool.
DOE also brought out one of my favorite artist, Ms. Proper, to rock with him on stage. Ms. Proper holds it down not only for RVA (though she has recently relocated) but she holds it down for female emcees. I was glad to see her rock the stage with DOE -and get ready because it is set to happen again this year at the Fall Line Fest in September (more on that in the coming weeks).
To wrap up the evening, I will finish by highlighting what I think the key to DOE’s success is – it’s his motto: Drive Over Everything. It’s well documented that he has been through some challenges but it’s his drive that pushes him forward and keeps him focused. The ability to create your own path is a rare trait. DOE has that trait and has been using it forge a new way not only in hop hop but in everything he does. There was a moment at the end of the show where it looked like DOE was just going to break down – like he wasn’t going to be able to continue – the emotion of the evening had gotten to him but then he held his head high – pounded his chest and pushed through. Stay tuned – DOE is still pushing and there is much more to come.