At 330 Ritch in the bowels of San Francisco, Rockie Fresh was set to play. After half a dozen emcees tried their hand at the mike with varying degrees of blunder, the audience was not having it. For a 7:30 ticket time, by 10:20 the energy was like a roaring Stanford crowd at a Cardinal ping-pong tournament. And then, Lunice took the stage.
A dorky black kid with his shirt buttoned up (all the way) and backpack strapped on, looking like some pre-politician from UVA, Lunice’s unassuming air and cheeks-wide grin felt almost twee in contrast with the almost hostilely impatient SF skater/rap crowd. Lunice Fermin Pierre II (we can’t believe that’s his real name either!) hails from Montreal, and his pack of beat-making utensils was enough to crush the crowd in less than three minutes.
It’s a scene from almost every Disney underdog movie (aren’t they all?): geeky outsider acts out some weird pre-performance routine, cut to skeptical crowd, give him a sec and everyone is abashedly impressed. (It’s also a scene from “Britain’s Got Talent.” See: Susan Boyle.) Such a ritual ensued, as Lunice oddly crossed his heart several times and looked to the sky in prayer set to some Gregorian chant sound-alike. Then, with swift and rapid taps of his fingers, he harnessed the crowd with some truly mad beatz.
In the mix were 2 Chainz’s “No Lie” and Trae Tha Truth’s “Fighting Words” and “I Don’t Like.” For that last one, Lunice flew the stage and moshed with the crowd. I was texting my mommy one second, dancing with the artist the next. His almost hour-long set, all as an opener to the headlining Rockie Fresh mind you, closed near 11 p.m., when the hype men practically ushered him off stage.
His last track, which mixed Waka’s “Fuck the Club Up” over electric beats, exemplified what Lunice does best: re-crafting hefty rap songs with beeps and boops to straddle the line between hipster chic and raw hip-hop.