The Warped Tour, on which both Eminem and Papa Roach have appeared, breaks down some barriers by working up-and-coming underground rappers into the punk-rock mix, but Unlimited Sunshine, Anger Management and Moby's Area One tour (which bypassed Kansas City) take a different approach, placing full-fledged representatives from the rap and rock camps on the same bill. Radio listeners who can recall ten years ago, when the term alternative actually meant something, might remember another tour that masterfully played this card: Lollapalooza. Another way to make radio obsolete, or at least point out how much it sucks, this sort of cross-promotion leads to mixed-race crowds and increased appreciation of inaccessible (at least through the airwaves) art forms.
This tactic didn't always take; Grandmaster Flash wasn't well-received as the Clash's opening act, and the Poster Children, among others, fared poorly as Public Enemy's support. But rap has made significant suburban inroads since those shows, to the point where a modern-day Grandmaster Flash (say, Anger Management's turntable collective X-ecutioners) fares as well with indie-rock-leaning college-radio DJs as it does with central-city clubgoers. A Linkin Park crowd, give or take a few clueless "rap sucks!" holdovers, is a rap-friendly bunch.
Headliner Eminem understands the radio rift -- he's addressed it eloquently in song, alleging that rock stations embrace him solely because of his race and declaring himself the worst thing since Elvis. Shrugging alt-rock stations play the tunes that contain such commentary without pondering the accusations.
Xzibit has been on alt-rock radio a few times -- as a guest on Eminem hits. He's always been prickly -- once the angry drunk in the lighthearted Alkoholiks crew, he belched fire while his playful partners merely burped. Even with new criminal-minded counterparts (producer Dr. Dre and frequent collaborators Eminem and Snoop Dogg), Xzibit stands out, his gruff boot-camp barks giving an uncomfortably real feel to his violent threats and uncouth commands. He's a scowling example of the type of artist even urban stations, who prefer polished product -- Ja Rule plus [insert female singer here] -- to rugged rhymes, won't touch.
Finally, Ludacris, an underrated lyricist whose sharp similes and witty wordplay reveal the smarts behind his class-clown act, appears on the bill, though his songs don't suggest he's angry about much, save crybabies and snoops who can't stay out his biz-nass. At a springtime set at Hale Arena, Ludacris proved he wasn't much of a showman, cutting off hit songs after one verse and failing to cash in on gimme cheers by incorporating local "Area Codes" into his signature single. However, Anger Management offers him a golden opportunity to spread positive Word of Mouf, because this tour's crossover crowd will include few of the same faces. Heavily promoted through urban outlets, Ludacris' concert with Mystikal was all but ignored by alt-rock radio, despite the fact that its listeners were responsible for a considerable portion of each artist's platinum-plus sales. Now fans and artists alike get a second chance to make a connection, and with newly converted fans calling to request Ludacris' "Roll Out," alt-rock radio gets an opportunity to atone for its blackout.