I first saw Jean Grae at the House of Blues in New Orleans in 2006. My homie Mark and I drove down from Baton Rouge for the show, which turned out to be one of the best ever; The Soul Rebels, Jean Grae, and The Roots. Yea, it was super-live.
We got there early and made our way to the front row, where we stayed for practically the entire night. The Rebels came on first and, of course, they were rockin'. However, they only got a 30 minute set. I felt they were robbed. They really didn't even get warmed up.
Jean came out next. Now, before we went down I had looked into some of Jean's stuff and thought it was pretty dope. She found good production and wrote with definition and specificity. Her work was solid, through and through. However, my skepticism kept my expectations of her live performance low. Big mistake.
Jean Grae is a master of ceremonies in the most fundamental sense, and she rhymes as if she's daring the next emcee to be better. Mark and I witnessed as she absolutely cemented herself on the edge of the stage and proceeded to stake her claim on the entire room. She got everyone moving, and most of us didn't even know who she was. Her rhymes are incredibly precise and ricochet through a crowd like a bull whip in the Grand Canyon. By the end of her set, we were all believers.
She's dumb nice wit' it.
Here's a quick freestyle she did at The Duck Down 15 year anniversary back in July.