Friday Playlist – Vol. 2

During our rehearsal process, we’ve been checking out a variety of music videos and clips of live performances as we develop ideas about what Pinnacle, Verb, and Peep One’s performance styles and stage presence might be like. Each week we’ll compile a few selections here on the blog — here are this week’s links!

GoldLink, Brent Faiyaz, and Shy Glizzy all have really different styles of delivery and presence here — it’s interesting to see how those styles contrast and compliment each other as we play with different approaches for Pinnacle, Verb, and Peep One:

Run the Jewels bring a lot of energy to their performance on this DJ Shadow track, and their connection feels genuine and fun:

Noting the way Macklemore and Offset use the stage space in this performance on Jimmy Kimmel is useful as we explore the onstage movement for the Hype Man performance moments.

Post-Malone’s performance on Late Night relies on a lot of lighting and fog effects to create mood and interest, but there’s minimal physical action onstage. Like Pinnacle’s focus on “the grind,” Post Malone’s lyrics here highlight the hard work he’s put in to reach success:

Peep One and her DNA results

PEEP ONE: I opened those DNA results….last night

VERB: I thought….I thought you ain’t wanna know

PINNACLE: You always told me you didn’t care.

VERB: So? What are you?

PINNACLE: Not that it matters but—yeah what are you?

Peep One, who’s described in the Hype Man character breakdown as mixed race, was adopted as a kid and doesn’t know much about her family history or racial background. She frequently gets questions about her racial identity and debates whether a home DNA test, like the ones offered by or 23andMe, might illuminate something about her heritage and her relationship to the events surrounding the shooting of Jerrod Davis.

A question came up in rehearsal about what a DNA test result might look like — below are a few examples of how that data might be presented and the level of detail Peep One could expect to see in her results.


AncestryDNA_Heather Michelle Collins



Yelawolf on Race

Yelawolf, a white rapper from Alabama, shares his perspective on race, police violence, and the confederate flag in this radio interview with Hot 97:

The interview is about half an hour — most of the conversation about race and politics is in the first 10 minute of the video (although the interviewers bring it up again toward the end at about 23 mins.)

We’ve been talking a bit in rehearsals about Pinnacle’s relationship to the police and how growing up as a white person around black people influenced his views on race. In this interview, Yelawolf talks about his own experience growing up white in small town Alabama, but he seems uninterested in discussing the privileges his race has afforded him, like why rock radio is more likely to play him over other rappers, and doesn’t want to grapple with the racial dynamics that will come into play for his kids, who are half black.
Later in the video, around the 18 min mark, there’s also some discussion about the way Yelawolf has evolved as an artist — Pinnacle’s growth as an artist and his understanding of his “brand” and the way it’s shifting are interesting to think about in this context. For Yelawolf, it seems his race affords him some genre crossover that might be unavailable to artists of color. How might Pinnacle’s career trajectory as a white artist be different from the other POC artists trying to come up at the same time?


Police Brutality by the Numbers

(getting the news on her phone)
They’re saying that he was rushing to get to his grandma…..she raised him. She had just suddenly collapsed at the hospital. He was rushing to be by her side.
He didn’t even get to say goodbye. They shot him.

Surrendered with his hands up!

Cops—they get anxious—

They get racist.

 – HYPE MAN by Idris Goodwin, p. 19

Recent high-profile cases of unarmed black men dying at the hands of law enforcement have sparked protests and civil unrest in several American cities. The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray are — some claim — evidence of long-standing problems with police racism and excessive violence. Nearly one in three black people killed by police in 2015 were identified as unarmed, though the actual number is likely higher due to under reporting.

Some facts from

Black people were 26% (279) of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.


These statistics help to create a social context for the police shooting of Jerrod Davis that takes place in Hype Man, where the frequency of police violence and the inequalities faced by people of color mirror our reality. Peep One, Verb, and Pinnacle all react to the news about this shooting in different ways, but as the stats reflect, this wouldn’t be the first incident of an unarmed person being killed by police in the world of the play. How does this particular shooting affect each character compared to past news reports they may have heard?


Verb’s Top 5 Hype Men: 2 Big MC

“Too Big MC. He was MC Hammer’s hype man…”- Verb in HYPE MAN, p.84

The second hype man on Verb’s top 5 is 2 Big MC.

He is most recognized for his work on MC Hammer’s 1990 album “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt Em,” and he would bring an immense energy to performances alongside MC Hammer. 2 Big MC would hype up the audience during dance breaks while MC Hammer would break it down with his back up dancers. Notably, “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt Em” was a huge commercial success, selling 10 million copies and making it one of the highest selling albums of all time.

2 Big MC later went on to perform as a solo artist on his own record “He’s The King of Hype.” Get a look at his energy (and some sweet throwback dance moves) below:

Friday Playlist – Vol. 1

During our rehearsal process, we’ve been checking out a variety of music videos and clips of live performances as we develop ideas about what Pinnacle, Verb, and Peep One’s performance styles and stage presence might be like. Each week we’ll compile a few selections here on the blog — here are this week’s links!

Local rapper Joyner Lucas’ song “I’m Not Racist” has been going viral this week, in large part because of the provocative music video — it’s a timely example of how an artist can use their platform to address contemporary issues:

We’ve been watching a lot of G-Eazy — his lyric “that’s not on my brand” especially jumps out here, as we’ve been considering what kind of “brand” Pinnacle is trying to establish.

Rachelle Fuego is an artist mentioned by Pinnacle in a conversation with Peep One — Rachelle is “global” and someone Peep deeply admires. As we discussed what her music and audience might be like, local rapper Dutch Rebelle came up as a possible inspiration for her sound and look:

Yo Gotti’s performance with Nicki Minaj on the Tonight Show features some solid hype man interjections: