As more rappers take up singing, and more singers decide to try out rapping, the music world has seen a noticeable uptick in mushy hip-hop and tough R&B. Theophilus London, who released his major label full-length debut, "Timez Are Weird These Days," last year, is one of the members of this new class of rapper/singer. While he is technically an MC, he plucks inspiration from everything from ’80s pop to electro-dance, and his current obsession seems to be unorthodox love songs, which he delivers about as romantically as a 24-year old Brooklyn rapper can. His current “Tour de Roses” tour stopped at the 9:30 Club last night, and London moved through a fair amount of amorous material in a performance adorably free of the usual pop/R&B/soul singer cliches.
London plugged “Timez,” but also his upcoming project “Lovers Holiday II: Rose Island,” a follow-up to the hipster love letter that was the 2011 EP “Lovers Holiday.” After the bass boom of “Last Name London,” his most recognizable track to date, he got into the love rap “Lisa.” He asked for a woman to come to the stage, so he could rap and sing to her, but instead of putting out a call for a “very special girl,” as most heartthrob types would, he shouted out “I need a participant!”
When he sang “Flying Overseas,” the mellow beach rap track from
“Lovers Holiday,” and the crowd went crazy, he stopped to say they were showing him too much love, “like I'm Brian McKnight or D'Angelo or something!” After “I Stand Alone” a track that the fashion darling performed on the teen television drama “90210,” he said the crowd contained “the most beautiful girls we've played for!” — a standard concert compliment. But London followed it with jokes about the women of Utah and Portland.
“Big $pender” which samples “Big Spender” from the musical “Sweet Charity, and another new track built around the theme song of the cartoon “Pinky and the Brain” were more straight-ahead rap songs, at least coming from an “alternative” hip-hop artist like London. He ended with “All Around the World,” a blink-and-you-missed-it encore, and a surprisingly sentimental move plucked straight out of the R&B singer handbook — distributing roses to the crowd.