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Coachella 2013: 2 Chainz, Action Bronson represent rap

Action Bronson performs Saturday at the 14th annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio.
Action Bronson performs Saturday at the 14th annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio.
(Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times)

There isn’t much hip-hop on Coachella’s main stage this year, which marks a significant shift from 2011 and 2012, when Kanye West and then Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg closed the annual festival with blow-out Sunday-night performances. But rap fans still had plenty to watch Saturday afternoon, with back-to-back sets in the Outdoor Theater by Action Bronson and Danny Brown and a jam-packed Mojave Tent appearance by the Atlanta strip-club king 2 Chainz.

Bronson, the rotund chef-turned-MC who broke out with a series of cooking-related mixtapes, spent as much of his performance in the audience as he did onstage, bellying his way through an amped-up crowd as he delivered rhymes about food (“Ginger ale and hot sauce / Two things I live by”) and his home turf of Queens. The journey came at a cost -- namely, Bronson’s T-shirt, which he lost, “over there somewhere,” he said while pointing -- but still provided a dose of unscripted rowdiness that’s rare at this micromanaged extravaganza.

FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2013 | What to see and do

Bronson also brought a handful of surprise guests to the stage, including Riff Raff and several members of Odd Future, whose presence at Bronson’s show says something about his reputation for mischief.

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Detroit-based Brown wasn’t as antic (or as entertaining), though his high-pitched squawk of a voice offered a welcome change of pace after Bronson’s gruff bark. It also helped to make his sex-obsessed rhymes -- delivered over beats that took in harsh snare cracks as well as a chopped-up sample of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” -- feel more friendly than demanding.

“I’m the black Brad Pitt,” he declared in one song, and his charm bore out that boast.

No less a charmer (and perhaps even more sex-obsessed) than Brown, 2 Chainz seemed close to exhausting his audience’s goodwill when he showed up in the Mojave Tent nearly 20 minutes late -- a serious no-no at Coachella. But if the overflow crowd had been booing seconds before he took the stage, it quickly changed course when 2 Chainz ripped into his verses from Kanye West’s “Mercy” and “Beez in the Trap” by Nicki Minaj.

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Backed by a six-piece live band, the rapper ran through a throbbing set of tunes from his “Based on a T.R.U. Story” album -- “Birthday Song,” “I’m Different,” “I Luv Dem Strippers” -- then took off as quickly as he’d arrived. Saturday night it’ll be up to the Postal Service and Sigur Rós to top the excitement 2 Chainz brought to Coachella. They’re not likely to succeed.

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Follow Mikael Wood on Twitter: @mikaelwood


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