The twenty best hip-hop shows of 2012
5. A$AP Rocky at the Ogden Theatre, with Danny Brown, 10/16/12
A$AP Rocky walked onto the stage with his crew in tow, ski mask over his face, looking like some radical of ill repute. Odd Future and Pro-Era have pulled the same stunt, only more effectively. The rapper invigorated the Ogden immediately with overwhelming energy and powerful flow. He leapt into the crowd with abandon more than once, and there's no doubt the crowd received his energy well.
4. Macklemore at the Ogden Theatre, 12/6/12
All Macklemore has to do was pose dramatically to induce the same frenzied reaction from an audience that a slightly lesser MC would draw with their signature song. Granted, a very sizable portion of his Denver audience comprised easily riled high-school girls, but that should truly take nothing away from the fact that the stories he tells are utterly compelling, and his performance at the Ogden was not one iota short of exhilarating. His stories are deeply personal, universally relatable and delivered with such poignancy that it becomes impossible not to be moved.
3. Slaughterhouse at Cervantes', 4/18/12
Emerging onto the stage one by one -- Crooked I first, followed by Joell Ortiz and then Royce da 5'9" and, finally, Joe Budden -- the members of Slaughterhouse came together like a perfect storm and immediately proceeded to murder the game. Royce da 5'9" climbed a speaker almost straight off and demanded that the lights get turned all the way off, and the crew went into "Sound Off" in the relative darkness, sending the capacity crowd into an absolute frenzy.
2. Kendrick Lamar at the Ogden Theatre, 10/8/12
The stage was set by an erupting smoke machine, thundering bass and a massive light spectacle, all in preparation for a dynamic, five-foot, six-inch MC in old-school high socks and a voice that seems too powerful to come from such a little body. The second that Kendrick Lamar strutted onto the stage in his grey hoodie and loose shorts, looking like he had just finished an afternoon jog, the rapper held the sea of people that filled the Ogden to capacity in his little hand. He spoke his opening bit and then launched into "HiiiPoWeR," and his words were no longer his own, but shared by the entirety of the venue.