Maryland-based rapper redveil landed in Santa Ana for his “water 2 fire” tour with supporting artists Femdot and D’mari Harris on May 4. Born Marcus Morton, redveil swept the rap world with the release of “learn 2 swim,” a self-produced LP that garnered respect from Kanye sample-heads and Earl Sweatshirt fans with prodigal flair to spare. This spring, redveil hit the road to perform his latest EP “playing w/ fire” and other fan favorites on his first national headlining tour.
Most of redveil’s shows on the “water 2 fire” tour have been completely filled with fans from all platforms. The Constellation Room — which holds about 250 — and El Rey — which holds about 771 — were packed.
High capacity rooms or lower ones, there’s nothing underground or slept-on about redveil. He’s rocking every stage he’s on.
Before the Prince George’s (PG) County rapper hit the stage at 9:15 p.m., colored lights settled on red — it engulfed everything. His DJ and high school friend, Razelle, came to the DJ table and led a chant.
“red-veil, red-veil, red-veil. Keep going! red-veil, red-veil, red-veil,” he said. Compared to the openers, the energy was placed somewhere completely different. Momentum was building from the floor instead of hitting the audience in the face.
The chant grew loud enough to cover the swelling, patient keys of “giftbag,” the first track from “playing w/ fire.” After about three minutes, a lanky 19 year-old with sky-reaching hair burst onstage and ferociously rapped to a sea of iPhones and bouncing hands.
Compatible before they met, redveil later confessed to the crowd, “I’m f****ing with y’all. Every city on this tour has been great. I’m feeling the love.”
Editor’s Note: Bronson, Ryan and Ayesha’s last names have been redacted at personal request for privacy.
There’s no traditional marquee outside of The Constellation Room. There aren’t any gleaming lights or tape that reads “SOLD OUT” across an artist’s name when the gig gets fully filled. But when fans walked into the venue that Thursday, they each tilted their heads to read a framed paper posted on the wall:
“UPCOMING SHOWS THIS MAY,” it read: “REDVEIL” with a sticker that read “SOLD OUT.”
For 17-year-olds Bronson and Ryan, two of the earliest OC teens at the foot of the stage, seeing redveil was an opportunity to see a TikTok star turn up.
Ryan believes that redveil’s fame is genuine, “He’s already got a few million listeners on Spotify and a Denzel feature,” he said.
For others, like 24-year-old Ayesha, redveil’s Santa Ana show was a chance to spend quality time with loved ones. Over the past year, Ayesha’s 15-year-old brother played redveil in her car all the time — she bought tickets for his show right after they were announced. When an AP History exam kept her brother at home, Ayesha brought her close friend to enjoy her favorite cuts from the new EP, “giftbag” and “captain.” A variety of stories mingled before an idle stage: a vacant DJ table in the back, a red paper bag-prop marked “giftbag” and a Marcus Garvey flag hoisted beside the Jamaican, 13 feet in the air.
The crowd was ready for anything to happen. The crowd was ready to feel music boom into their spines. The crowd was ready to cheer when someone put their phone up and played 2048 for everyone behind them to see. When Razelle walked on stage to set up his equipment for the opening set with D’mari Harris, another PG County alumni, hands flew to the ceiling and clapped. Eager and energized, they blew up when D’mari Harris opened the show with melodic tracks like “Ride” and “Wake Up.”
The show was off to a fantastic start.
Something shifted once Charles, longtime friend/DJ for Femdot, walked onstage to the table after Harris and Razelle.
“Santa Ana, make some m*********ing noooIIIISSEEEE!” screeched the tall tenor in a durag.
Duke Deuce, Sheck Wes, and Lil Uzi Vert tracks fueled the crowd before the second supporting act. After the short medley, stage lights kissed the face of Femdot, who walked on stage wearing a Chicago Cubs jersey and beaming gold grills. While performing “Sacrilegious / Part 1,” Femdot wielded the mic in one hand and beckoned the crowd forward in the other, shifting about 250 people. The two were attached by invisible pieces of verbal string: wiggling their pointer fingers in the air or holding their flashlights up, they did everything he asked. The Chicago-native’s rhymes made them clap once they were able to register Femdot’s punctual, polished wordplay two bars later. Every metaphor and simile landed on time, building a set of pure talent.
No matter how high his fans jumped, redveil jumped the highest during his set. He jumped so often that from the middle of the crowd, he practically floated inches above the ground. The momentum built before he stepped on stage stayed consistent despite the temporal range of music he performed. He performed his earliest work with Razelle and D’mari, “Run It Back (2019),” and the album that landed him a placement on NPR’s Best Rap Albums of 2022 list, “learn 2 swim.”
redveil’s wide range of performing material was intentional. Before the Tyler Okonma-inspired teen sold out shows, he remembered producing songs that were always meant for an audience.
“I just have a lot of love for the music I made when I was 14 and 15… I didn’t really have anywhere to perform it so being able to do it now, I get to live through my old self, you know what I mean?” he shared between songs.
Three songs in, he played “morphine (da ways),” with his foot on the stage speaker, nearly spilling into the crowd while rapping. The track’s sample is optimistic — it’s cyclical in its recount of redveil’s experience confronting adulthood as a learning adolescent.
“My brother said you learn how to swim if he throw you in / Holding the pen, it got me blending with ink and fins,” he rapped. Even when he performed his downtempo tracks and bared his soul, nobody stood stagnant.
“playing w/ fire” isn’t an EP for listeners that pigeonhole the PG County kid as a specific type of rapper. All expectations to follow “learn 2 swim” disappeared when he tackled his new project. He made the EP for two reasons: one, to turn up at live shows and two, “‘cuz f***k em,” he said.
redveil turned an open mosh pit into a bull ring once the trumpets started blaring for “black enuff.” Hair of all colors left motion trails behind kids like bulls zooming in circles without a torero. At the drop of the beat, bodies crashed and flew upwards. That was the sixth moshpit of the night; fourth for redveil, alone.
In an industry full of people blowing up within weeks of a TikTok anthem, it can be hard to tell whether or not an artist’s popularity is gonna last. But by the time redveil thanked Santa Ana for the love, it was clear: He’s got an artistic dimension.
redveil is the voice over a soul sample that brings generations together. redveil is the torero that lets the bulls run loose. There’s beauty in it all. At 19, he can afford to float with his back to the ocean floor and enjoy the success of his first headlining tour.
Mason Stoutamire is an Arts & Entertainment Editor for the 2022-23 year. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.