Friday, June 1, 2007
Boston Hip-Hop Unity Fest
On Wednesday, May 30th, the staff of Long Crispies went to the Paradise Rock Club on Comm. Ave to support the first annual Boston Hip-Hop Unity Fest, presented by 4Peace. If you weren’t aware, 4Peace is a group that Edo G. started to use hip-hop to promote peace and an end to violence in Boston. The lineup at the show was a who’s who of Boston hip-hop, from newcomers Dre Robinson, Termanology, and Slaine to longtime heavyweights like Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, and Edo himself. We arrived around 10 and unfortunately missed out on 7L & Esoteric, Jake the Snake, and a few other acts. We did have the chance to see Krumbsnatcha, Triple Threat, Dre Robinson, Termanology, Frankie Wainwright, Special Teamz, 4Peace, and Lif & Ak. Before I get into the acts, I’d like to drop some random thoughts and observations I had during the show:
1) Acts should not be allowed to have more active microphones than people in the group. As a corollary, no more than one extra person should be allowed on the stage with any group. There were far too many hype men and hangers on filling up the stage for some of the earlier acts. Lif and Akrobatik, in stark contrast, were the only two on stage (other than the DJ) during their set. Having your crew on stage might be fun, but it just looks amateurish, and hype men have their place and time, but finishing every single one of your lines is not it (especially when there is more than one person doing it). Please grow up.
2) Termanology is 5’7”. Tops.
3) Host and local producer D-Tension is a very large, rotund man resembling a bowling ball.
4) Mzarecta got a gangster photo pulling off B-Boy stances with Lif.
5) The biggest fans of corny white rappers from the suburbs (sorry Esoteric) are corny white kids from the suburbs (and no, I don't include myself in that group).
6) I hate sounding like an old man, but you can tell immediately when you walk into an 18+ show, and not in a good way.
7) The two most common sports jerseys at any Boston hip-hop event are Tom Brady and Larry Bird. Let the irony sink in. I did see one kid rocking a Paul Pierce Inglewood High jersey.
8) Boston hip-hop fans generally fall into two categories – and those categories correlate far too often with race. The unity fest brought them together, but I still saw allot of white kids leaving after 7L and Eso’s set, and I’m assuming more would have bounced if they weren’t waiting for Lif and Ak.
9) It’s strange to buy 12 oz. cans of PBR at a bar. It’s even stranger when they cost the same price as the tallboys that they were all out of ($3).
10) I have no idea who the other members of 4Peace are. All I know is that they’re old hip-hop heads from Boston.
11) On a related note, I had no idea how many of the 15 people on stage were actually members of Triple Threat.
12) Krumbsnatcha is a large, scary man. He also doesn’t get enough props around these parts. Dude is nice.
13) We collected a nice set of free CD’s at the show, including a new Smoke Bulga mixtape. If I can get my act together, I might get them uploaded here in the near future.
14) We saw our boy Jud at the show, followed by Hikes and his girl, and Neezy and Q of the Usual Suspeckts were posted up outside.
15) We got some new WMFO drops from Akrobatik, Slaine, Edo G., Dre Robinson, Esoteric, and Frankie Wainwright.
16) On a completely unrelated note, the new Pharoahe Monch album – Desire – is straight crack cocaine.
When we showed up 7L & Esoteric had just finished their set and Boston veteran and Gangstarr Foundation member Krumbsnatcha was taking the stage. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t listened to much of Krumb’s shit in a long time, and I’m not too familiar with his catalog in general, but he put it down pretty hard. And as I mentioned above, he is a large man (nh). Next up, they decided to bring Triple Threat to the stage. They weren’t on the bill or on the schedule, so I’m assuming they just showed up and asked if they could get on to perform their one song that gets spins on JAMN (“Gots to Get it”). They did a few more than that, although it was always hard to tell who was in the group – the stage was damn near full. Dre Robinson didn’t have quite as many weed carriers on stage with him, but still fell into the god-awfully annoying trap of letting his hype man finish every line. Dre, we know you know the words to your own song. We also know your hype man does. I’m guessing that I speak for everyone when I say that we’d rather have you rap them. There’s a reason he’s just a hype man.
Up next up-and-coming mixtape artist Termanology came through with his boys (?) S.T. the Squad. I was excited to see Term perform live and when he was doing his material, it was pretty on point. However, with his crew swarming all over the stage and his relative lack of height (see above), it was sometimes hard to see where he was on stage. He then made the mistake of letting some of his boys do their own material. I would say there was one dude that was okay, the other two were straight refuse (I heard their names, but after the incident I actively forgot them so I wouldn’t have to think about their performances ever again). We then had to sit through one more act that consisted of one rapper and 12 hype men in Frankie Wainwright, but at least his weed carriers were wearing Frankie Wainwright T-Shirts. It was a nice touch. When it comes to Frankie, Dre Robinson, and Triple Threat, their music isn’t necessarily my style (a little on the jiggy side for my taste), but I’m sure it sounds better on wax. Their live shows, however, leave a lot to be desired. They show great energy, but you have to realize that when 90% of the crowd doesn’t know any of your lyrics, they might want to be able to hear them, instead of having six different people yelling the punchline in every verse.
Once Frankie was off, we finally got to the main acts. First up, Boston supergroup Special Teamz, consisting of Southie’s own Slaine (who stole my role in the upcoming film Gone Baby Gone, starring Casey Affleck, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman), Jaysaun of the Kreators, and Edo G. They did a few songs, including “Main Event,” produced by Primo. The one thing that stuck out was that they didn’t look like a group at all on stage. It looked more like three separate artists, sticking to their own parts of the stage. There wasn’t a whole lot of interaction. It didn’t really take much away from the performance, but I found it interesting. Edo then brought out the three other old dudes that make up 4Peace. They did some uplifting songs about starting the peace in Boston, including an R&B jam, and were generally pretty tight. One of the members – the guy that wore a suit and tie – announced that he was going to be sitting down with Governor Deval Patrick on Thursday to discuss what role hip-hop can play in curbing violence in the Commonwealth. I’m assuming Deval isn’t a huge hip-hop fan (I imagine his iPod is filled mainly with Aretha Franklin, Neil Diamond, and Kenny G), but it’s nice to see support coming from the top.
Last, but certainly not least, Mr. Lif and Akrobatik, a/k/a the Perceptionists, provided the grand finale. At this point I was about 8 or 9 PBR’s deep (on top of the 40 of 8Ball I downed before the show – don’t worry, we took cabs), so I can’t remember all the tracks they did. I do remember that the final track after club employees shut down the show, was Lif’s Boston Flow. Classic.
If you’re looking for the city of which I talk
It’s about four hours northeast of New York
And if it’s our sports history you observe
You’ll find legends such as Bobby Orr and Larry Bird
For more on the show, check out this article from the Boston Globe. Or this one from XXL.com.