Riz MC played a standout solo show at Public Arts, joined by Heems (pics)
Riz Ahmed's acting credits include the recent superhero blockbuster Venom, a spot in Star Wars: Rogue One, his lead role in HBO's The Night Of, and more, but outside of the acting career, Ahmed also raps under the moniker Riz MC and as part of the Swet Shop Boys (with former Das Racist member Heems). Following the release of a new song, "Mogambo" and ahead of new work tentatively scheduled to come out in Spring, Riz MC played a one-off solo show in New York at Public Arts, part of Public Hotel, the fancy Ian Schrager of Studio 54-owned hotel that notoriously occupies what used to be the backyard of the low-income apartment building still located right next door as the NY Times recently highlighted in an article titled, "How a Garden For the Poor Became a Playground For the Rich."
Riz MC's standout set leaned heavily on his Swet Shop Boys work and sounded fantastic. He must have spent some time honing his rhyming and vocalizations though it probably didn't help that he had to do double duty on SSB tracks as Heems was not there... except for when the Queens rapper was welcomed out to perform "T5." Both looked particularly happy as they performed together. Other highlights included "Shoes Off" which saw attendees waving a shoe in the air with Riz, the song "Half Moghul Half Mowgli" which is a favorite of mine, and the medley of classic Bollywood/Bhangra songs that he performed which included many tunes people in the audience grew up hearing.
Opening the show was Humeysha, the musical project of Zain Alam, who performed many new, dreamy songs interlaced with visuals that varied from seemingly home-video activities to kaleidoscopic psychedelics. Additional, sideline support came from many notable brown folks in the audience including comedian Aasif Mandvi, rapper Anik Khan (who opened for Swet Shop Boys at Webster Hall in 2017) and Red Baraat's bandleader Sunny Jain. Check out photos from the show above (including a pic of the setlist) and Riz MC's latest video "Mogambo" below.
Half Moghul Half Mowgli
Shotting x Immigrants