Kur commands the TLA with ferocious honesty - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

A sold-out show in your hometown is something most artists can only dream about. Selling out two shows is pure fantasy. Having to add a third show due to demand, a show that also sells out, is a sweet reality for uptown rapper Kur.

Back in February of this year, Kur delivered to fans his latest album Thurl. Arguably his best project yet, Thurl is chock full of Kur’s hallmark punctuated delivery and lyrics that reveal uncomfortable truths, and humility.

The only thing that you can say has changed about Kur over the years is that he now possesses a lot more burn in the industry and has a larger fanbase. The lyricism is still eerily relatable and true to form. Over the past decade, the fans are what really made the difference for Kur. During the first of his sold-out shows at the TLA on Friday, he remarked on how back in 2014 when he first performed at the venue, the place wasn’t even half full. This full-circle moment during The Thurlest Ever tour reinforces Kur’s message of not giving up and sticking to your grind until it pays off.

Kur | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

If you’re reading this and aren’t from Philly, you may be wondering about the word Thurl and what it actually means. You could look at it as a Philly-specific adaptation of the word thorough. To be a thurl boul or jawn one would need to be principled, loyal, honest, frank, and unpretentious with a great moral code. Thurl is Kur’s brand, but more importantly, it’s who he is at his core (pun intended).

Kur pulled no punches when he graced the TLA stage. There were no openers, no set design outside of a few blinding LED lights, and even his DJ was obscured from the crowd. No chains, no crew, just Kur. No frills and to-the-point, just like his music. He kicked things off with “123,” the opening track on Thurl – a brash and bass-heavy banger that commands attention. The crowd was already primed and ready and rapping every line word for word. For the following song, Kur tapped into his 2016 bag and got busy with “Uptop! Uptop” – an ode to Uptown, the amalgamation of neighborhoods in the northwest section of Philly where Kur calls home.

Kur | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

For the next few songs, Kur circled back to Thurl with “Come Overnight” and “Lil Bro” – both tracks feel like the blueprint for getting any and everything you want out of life. And you almost have to believe that what he says in his songs is the key to success, considering the circumstances of his childhood. He put the work in and made it out, so it has to be true for the listener too, right? To only be in his 30s, Kur is wise beyond his years – and it makes sense. Throughout his career, Kur has always been transparent about his struggles growing up in the trenches, living in filth, and being raised by a parent who struggled to take care of herself let alone her children.

During his set, he asked three people to come on stage and rap “Heaven Or Hell” – a 2014 release that also happens one of his most trauma-ridden songs. The three folks he selected did their best to rap along, but Kur knew what the rest of the audience wanted. They needed to hear the words come directly from his mouth, he rapped it with the same passion you hear in the original recording – screechy tone, cracking vocals, and all. This song embodies the rawness and transparency that Kur has come to be known for.

Kur | photo by Melissa Simpson for WXPN

Throughout the night Kur went on to rap more songs from Thurl including “Confidence Level” and “Up To Par.” The highlight of the night came when he performed “Peach Snapple” three times in a row, one of which was performed from the middle of the audience.

I have to say it: If you look up Thurl in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Kur. He’s ferociously honest and has never forgotten where he came from. He knows his fans are from the same place and refuses to leave them in the dust. This was apparent from his interaction with fans where he fulfilled the promise of taking pics on their phones, to joining the audience on the floor. At one point in the evening, he said “I promise to never stunt on y’all, because we are all the same.” But honestly, what’s already understood doesn’t need to be explained.

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