At one point during B.A.G.’s 3 p.m. set Sunday at ACL Fest, before California rapper Blimes started spitting bars, she paused and said, laughing, “My eyelash glue is blinding me!” Her musical partner, the Seattle-based Gifted Gab, shot back, “That’s OK, you don’t need eyes to spit.”
Blimes couldn’t argue, and she turned out a furious set of bars that revealed vulnerability and fierce determination, calling out the many broken infrastructures that make up America while telling the story of how people in the music industry said she’d never make it because of her weight. It was incisive without being preachy, just like all of B.A.G.’s set.
The two rappers, who are both working on solo albums, never expected to become a duo, but earlier this year they found viral fame with the video for their collaborative track, “Come Correct,” and it inspired them to work and perform more with each other. (They’ve already finished recording an album together.) It’s a good thing, because, as their set showed, they have great stage chemistry. Blimes used to be a battle rapper, and she’s honed her flow: In her low steady voice she can spit bar after bar seemingly forever. Gifted Gab is equally as talented, able to transition from smooth singing to high-pitched, high-speed charismatic rapping with ease. And the two maintained a collaborative, joyful vibe the entire set, trading off chances to shine and show off.
From hard flossing tracks like “Hot Damn” and “Nasty,” to sexy jams like the unnamed song they performed with a chorus that goes “I’d rather be hungover with you” and a verse that mentions the Colombian coffee they’ll drink from a French press the next morning with their lover, Blimes and Gab showed off a range of talents, most impressively their hyper-specific lyricism. Even a crowd-pleaser about getting high offered a cool, playful take by bagging on all the people who offer them poor-quality weed and bragging about the high-quality product they can procure. They also debuted a brand new song during which they managed to get the crowd to do a call-and-repeat.
In their penultimate song, which the two called their “secret weapon,” Gab’s voice and their mutual songwriting talents really shined. On the groovy, melodic track, they crooned “Let your body speak to me, you can’t deny the chemistry.”
One of my favorite lyrics from the whole set came closer to the beginning, though, in “Hot Damn”: “They call me ‘baby’ like I’m a fetus.” It’s such a gross, cool way of calling out the patronizing and condescending attitude from men that women deal with all the time. During their confident set, Blimes and Gab showed they were nobody’s babies.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS MUSIC FEST 2018: See all our coverage from both weekends