headlines the first annual 420 Smokefest
on Friday, April 20, at the Seven Flags
Event Center. Opening acts include Xeroxt8,
Clik and Horizon. Doors open at 7 p.m.,
and tickets are $25 and $30, available through
Quiz the average person about the date 4/20,
and you’re liable to get one of two replies.
They’ll either say something about it being
Hitler’s birthday, or they’ll pinch their thumb
and forefinger together, bring them to their
lips and inhale sharply.
This curious duality means that 4/20 is a date
well known and even celebrated, not only among
skinheads and racists, but Deadheads and rappers.
Of those four groups, two tend to do their celebrating
in concert form, and of those two, only one
is partial to something that isn’t 100 percent
demonstrably terrible music. It’s not the skinheads.
However, in this instance, the rappers and the
skinheads do have one thing in common: The date
is being used more for promotional purposes
than any genuine application. I mean, sure,
I wouldn’t bet against some or all of the men
taking the stage this Friday being weed smokers.
But when you think of the phrase “Smokefest,”
you conjure up images of consenting adults engaged
in civil disobedience in some park or out in
the vast expanse of a desert festival. You don’t
normally think of an all-ages show in the middle
The headliners of this particular event are
hip hop super-group Slaughterhouse. Consisting
of members Joe Budden, Crooked I, Royce Da 5’9
and Joell Ortiz, Slaughterhouse is swinging
through Des Moines as a part of their current
tour in advance of their highly anticipated
second album, “Welcome to: Our House,” due out
Set to be released under Eminem’s Shady Records,
“Our House” is also executive produced and mixed
by Em (Marshall Mathers), which has taken the
album’s sound in unexpected directions.
“We’re still working out minor tweaks, but it’s
way more done than people know,” said Royce
5’9 during a phone interview from Austin, Texas.
“Marshall actually mixed the entire album, and
that wasn’t even the original plan, so we’re
super excited about that. He’s just taking songs
to another level.”
All four artists are extremely talented in their
own right, with Royce in particular being highly
praised and admired for his rhymes, but he is
quick to point out the added dimension that
Eminem’s influence has had on the album.
“He’s turning it into a movie. It’s becoming
way more visual, when he comes and puts his
stamp on it, if you will,” he said.
Time and again, the group has praised Eminem’s
talents on both sides of the booth glass.
“Real talk: A lot of people don’t give Eminem
enough credit for his production and his arrangement
and his mixing,” said Crooked I. “What he’s
doing to add to the album is phenomenal, and
I think he deserves props and a salute for that.”
Slaughterhouse deserves a salute for a tour
schedule that is nothing short of break-neck.
The Des Moines show will be the group’s 13th
city in 15 days. And they don’t stop there,
playing in Omaha the next night and 11 more
cities in as many days. But the pace doesn’t
seem to be hurting the group, as they’ve continued
to get solid reviews everywhere they go and
are clearly playing with genuine excitement
over the upcoming release of the new album.
And on April 20, that excitement is on display
for you, dear readers, at an event that may
or may not have anything to do with the “holiday”
it proclaims to be celebrating. Who’s holding?