Review by: David Mingus
Unfortunately, I arrived to the show late and missed out on the performance from The WHOevers. A Chicago group composed of emcees J. Arthur and DotKom. These cats definitely have talent and tons of presence in their videos. I was looking forward to seeing how well they translate that to their live show, so I hope to catch them in the future.
Coming in late Add-2 was already on stage performing with Slot-A as his hype man, DJ J-Rell, and drummer Mike Curran. Interacting with the quaint crowd, as I entered Add-2 was singling out a young female in the front row with J-Rell dropping popular female favorite cuts from Kanye West and the likes, asking her which songs are her type.
Proceeding into his song about the girls he has met in his travels "One of Them Girls" then going into a song for the hip hop heads getting much respect and full attention from the crowd, throwing their hands in the air on command. Followed by Add-2 offering up his two drink tickets given to him by the promoters as a prize for an audience member to join him on stage. Enter a gentleman who introduces himself as "Big Stanky," and is told by Add-2 that he must rap along to a track to earn the drinks. The DJ drops the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme and an embarrassingly poor, struggled through rendition proceeds, rapping "half the lyrics at best" as Add-2 put it. "Big Stanky" however still received the drink tickets from the gracious rapper.
Add-2 then went into the corresponding song for his new video "Love Jones". Laid back and silver-tongued, a jazzy song for the ladies. The live drums fitting perfectly added a real presence to the song. Finishing with "Modern Day Coons" reflecting on the ills of today’s culture with the poor representation & exploitation of black culture in the media and the issues caused "when y'all act like niggas."
Fresh off the release of her new video featuring Mikkey Halsted “Kids Right Now” and recent release of her mixtape Child Support a collaboration with ASCAP and America SCORES. Psalm One comes to stage in rare form, wearing a dress. While seeing an MC with a dress on is unusual in itself, as the presence of talented female lyricists like Psalm is currently lacking. Psalm herself rarely wears a dress as she pointed out during the show, stating that her DJ and most of her friends never saw her in one.
With her DJ dropping the track you hear her slightly raspy voice over a smooth track, with her conscious lyrics and classic boom bap flow the crowd was steadily nodding along. Hitting a speed bump spitting over the instrumental for D.T.P.’s “RPM” with a somewhat poor vocal mix her voice sounded like she was mumbling while spitting fast over the busy beat. Finding her flow again on a slower tribute to regular people with a bouncy synth run and hard drums. Unfortunately, some of the crowd started loosing interest. Bringing out her DJ for a song where he managed to out rap her, bringing a surprisingly impressive performance.
Thanking the crowd for their attention, in efforts of grabbing their attention again, and drawing more back to the stage. Psalm prepared to perform her new single sans Mikkey Halsted. Before going into "Beat The Drum" from her project with Rhymesayers Ent. Psalm took a moment to introduce to those that did not know that she is the First Lady of Rhymesayers Ent. With and easy bounce, switching between her quick and slow flow. Much cleaner than her previous fast flow, due to keeping it restricted to the tamer sections of the beat. Before bringing surprise guests Prob Cause and Sharkula to the stage to rock with her for “Calamari Astronaut” getting the crowd hyped. Psalm finally ended her set by announcing herself as a nerd and a pervert to get the crowd hyped dancing and clapping along to her song for nerdy perverts finally proclaiming, "Nerds need love too."
Performing to a crowd of about 25 at the stage and another 35 around the rest of the club, it makes you immediately aware, you’re only as relevant as your recent release. The Hip Hop audience is fickle, and the critically acclaimed Tanya Morgan were made aware of that as they came out on stage. They have had a strong video push this year following the 2011 release of You & What Army, as well as the loss of Ilyas reducing the trio down to the original duo of Von Pea & Donwill.
Reminiscing on the last time I saw the group at the same venue. Tanya Morgan packed the house with a nearly sold out performance, accompanied by Blu. As they go into classics from Brooklynati you would think they had sold out the venue again. The pair brought full energy having the crowd chanting along with the classic "Oh la, oh la, ay!"
Von took a break to express his love for Chicago food and the abundance he had eaten leading up to the show. Ranging from Harold’s Chicken Shack to Lawrence’s Fishery and Giordano's Famous Chicago Style Pizza. All three choices in excellent taste, although I prefer a pie from Lou Malnati’s over those of Giordano’s
Keeping the crowd grooving along with songs from their vast collection of albums and Mixtapes. Von Pea then went into a new song “Things Have Changed” from his upcoming EP Duly Noted produced by Aeon. Which is due to release in January 2013. Reflecting "It’s funny how things have changed, yet everything stays the same." With a laid back flow fitting of the track but maintaining his live energy for a great performance and preview of the project.
Donwill jumped back in for “Together” from You & What Army sans the appearance from Exile continuing on with a smooth bouncy flow followed by drawing more of the audience back to the stage before “Taking it to Brazil.” With a funky sample as they broke into “Whatever That’s Mine” Highlighting their smooth interweaving flows and proclaiming their determination. Pronouncing proudly on the hook "I’m out to get whatever that's mine" paying respect to the grind to end out their show.
Overall I would go see all of the acts that performed tonight again. I can only hope that next time more people will join without the competition of Black Wednesday for peoples attention. Also worth noting was The WHOevers were the only act aside from Tanya Morgan that had merch set up at the event for sale. Shout out to their business grind.