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Klassik promises a celebration for his Rainbow Summer 'Back 2 Skool' concert

Milwaukee rapper Klassik has developed a reputation for going above and beyond with his live shows. For his “Tribe Uncovered” concert, he recruited a team of musicians from across the city to deconstruct and reinterpret the music of A Tribe Called Quest. For his “American Klassiks” show and live album, he reworked protest songs and other folk staples from the American songbook. And for the vinyl release show behind his latest album “ QUIET,” one of the city's final concerts last year before the pandemic shuttered live music, he assembled a 12-piece band.

He prides himself on never having played the same set twice in more than a decade of performing. “I'm not someone who is ever complacent, so there's a constant need for me to freshen it up, to keep that spontaneity,” he says. “My jazz foundation informs a lot of that.”

Klassik has another one of those one-off shows in the works. On Thursday, Aug. 26, Klassik and his band the Student Body will play a “Back 2 Skool” concert at the Marcus Center as part of its revived Rainbow Summer series. “Exploring the intersectionality of the many genres rooted in Black Music, using imaginative reinterpretations of works,” the website promises.

Klassik | Photo credit: Aliza Baran

That might sound like a lofty undertaking – how do you do justice to the scope of Black music in a single concert? – but the beauty of the premise, Klassik says, is it's basically a license to perform whatever he wants. “All the music we listen to, it's all Black music,” Klassik says. “It's not just the things you think of. We don't even have to go all that far back; a lot of the show is more contemporary. Like, there's a Neptunes medley in the set, something I've been sitting on for two years.”

First and foremost Klassik promises that the show, which will serve as a warmup for his Summerfest gig at 6:45 p.m. on Sept. 11, will be a good time. "This is going to be the only show where you're going to hear a Kanye cover next to Parliament and De La Soul covers,” he says.

“This gig right here, we're going to have fun," he promises. "I'm keeping the set list tight. I'm even pulling the sax back out.”