This year's string of vitaminwater® #uncapped performances, which are all about "hydrating the hustle," officially kicked off last night in New York City. A large crowd assembled early at Manhattan's lofty SIR Stage 37, eager to see a stacked pair of performances from revered hip-hop duo Run the Jewels and Chicago-based ladies' man Jeremih. While waiting for the music to start, between shooting photos, screen-printing T-shirts and gulping down the seemingly infinite supply of chilled vitaminwater® beverages, you could almost sense that there were a few unplanned surprises in store, too. We knew #uncapped has a storied history pulling together serendipitous, unique moments—and history tends to repeat itself.
When Killer Mike and El-P—aka Run the Jewels—hopped on stage about 45 minutes after the doors swung open (entrance music win: "We Are The Champions"), they almost immediately began spitting with a professionalism that reflects that they've been at this for some time, and a rattled, unfailing energy that suggests they won't be slowing down anytime soon. "If you don't know what you're seeing right now, it's called rap music," El-P said, cheekily, to the still-growing crowd before slipping into "No Come Down," a hooky highlight from their collaborative, self-titled record. Power 105's DJ Envy's song selection between sets was as on point as it gets; he dropped hits from Young Thug, Meek Mill, and more.
Dressed in all-black with a statement-making gold chain and some big, dark wayfarers, Jeremih opened his set with a live rendition of "Bo Peep," except instead of being cushioned by LA beatsmith Shlohmo's syrupy beats, his tender voice was supported by a four-piece band. Not too long into the set, the special guests started rolling out. First was Estelle, joining Jeremih for their duet "Be In Love," before showing off her rich contralto on her late-'00s mega-hit "American Boy," with Jeremih providing some pleasant harmonies. Harlem's Vado turned up, too, to rap on him and Jeremih's recent collaboration, "Bae." The last—and maybe sweetest—surprise was NYC hip-hop staple Fabolous, who joined Jeremih for a couple fast, loud tracks. The R&B crooner wrapped things up with two electric performances: a slightly downtempo, impossibly sultry take on his first hit, "Birthday Sex," (which sounds as smooth as it ever did) and his newest smash, the YG-featuring 'Don't Tell 'Em." Afterwards, he addressed the crowd: "I'm a little overwhelmed but I feel good," he said. So did we Jeremih, so did we.