Hopsin delights and dazzles at the Westcott.

The rapper rises above public self doubt to deliver fantastic and immersive hip-hop experience.

When Hopsin stepped onto the Westcott stage on Wednesday night, he knew he had something to prove.

The Los Angeles rapper took to Twitter on Feb. 17 with a rant about his frustration with fame, touring and “two faced” fans. “Don’t come to these shows,” he tweeted. “You are gonna get an auto pilot performance.”

Either his feelings changed over two days, or his definition of auto pilot is a complete party of a performance with stellar rapping and a huge amount of energy. The show featured crowd surfing, audience participation and almost 20 songs, most from his newest album, Knock Madness, which came out last November.

Photo: Jessica Cabe
Hands held high for Hopsin at the Westcott Theater

Hopsin opened the show with “The Fiends are Knocking,” a high-energy, hard-hitting track from Knock Madness. If the crowd held any animosity over his Twitter meltdown, all was forgiven the minute the music started.

Hopsin rapped over beats from DJ Hoppa, who took the songs to a much higher level than what listeners hear on the album. Hopsin is an incredibly talented lyricist, but the production of his songs always seems hollow, thin and amateurish.

Hearing the music in a live setting brought a whole new depth to the tracks. The music quality finally matched Hopsin’s talent as a rapper, and it will be interesting to see if he tightens up his sound in the studio now that he’s gaining a larger following.

Although the show would have still been great had Hopsin just stood on stage and rapped, he made it even more special by pulling up audience members to participate.

The first time it happened, he needed someone to rap SwizZz’s verse on “How You Like Me Now?” The fan assured Hopsin he knew “85 percent” of the lyrics, and he was surprisingly good. The crowd loved it.

Another instance was during “Gimme That Money,” when he invited four fans on stage to “swag out,” which basically just meant dance around. Also a hoot.

And finally, during “Lunchtime Cypher,” Hopsin invited two emcees, one of whom was a 13-year-old boy, to freestyle on stage. The kid had trouble keeping up with the beat, but Hopsin wouldn’t let him quit. Finally the young fan spit an a cappella verse that rhymed “pinnacle” with “tentacles” and “ventricles,” prompting enthusiastic cheers from the crowd and a blown away Hopsin, who said he learned some new words that night.

That interaction with the audience — and the fact that the crowd was enthusiastic, positive and respectful — is what took Hopsin’s show to another level. Everyone who was there went because they knew he could rap, but his amiability, sense of humor and graciousness to his fans were a pleasant surprise after his public breakdown a couple days prior.

Although fans were thrilled to hear songs from Knock Madness, the biggest cheers of the night came when he played both “Ill Mind of Hopsin 4” and 5. The songs that put him on the map — where he disses Tyler the Creator and calls out every kind of low-life you can imagine — are still some of his best works, and his delivery was flawless.

Hopsin didn’t seem depressed, frustrated or checked out. He seemed like a rapper with something to prove, and he went above and beyond what he had to do to deliver an excellent show.

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