If one were in a room with those on the roster over at Rhymesayers Entertainment, then Typical Cats could be considered “typical”; otherwise, I am not sure the name, given the state of popular hip hop, is fitting in many contexts. That being said, Urban Underground Weekly, in typical fashion, hosted quite a night of underground hip hop. Resident DJ, DJ Adamnt, got the show moving and carried us through most of the night, only stepping away from the turntables when an act included a DJ of its own. Qwel, Qwazaar and Denizen Kane, Typical Cats (w/DJ Leviathan), headlined the show Wednesday night, May 25th. The acts with the honor of ushering in Typical Cats, in order of appearance, were as follows: Solicit and TravistyOne, The Gutted Cigar Project w/ DJ Joey Funk, The Second Power (Van Angeles and Klassic w/ DJ Rockay), LNC (Generik and Anek), West Indies w/ Kastle Creeps, Nikki and the Mongoloid, Dapper Dan, and Audios w/DJ Marsellus Wallace.
Solicit and TravistyOne are conceptually and lyrically solid. The duo cuts straight through the crap, that so many in hip hop leave behind, with their no-punches-pulled style and demeanor to match. While their angst can place a barrier in between the artists and the audience, their lyricism and passion (especially that of Solicit Wednesday night) certainly attempt to chip away at that wall. Two stand-out tracks from their set were: a track in which they call all to wake up and recognize the political realities that lie just beneath the surface of the status quo and a we-love-weed anthem, which was performed while both Solicit and Travisty mustered up the saliva to chew and swallow some marijuana-laden chocolate while remaining on point lyrically.
Next to take the stage were the many members of The Gutted Cigar Project, orchestrated by their obvious leader, Blackout and accompanied by DJ Joey Funk. “Dope beats dope rhymes, what more do y’all want?” asks rapper Phonte, of Little Brother, on Not Enough. The group was lyrically strong and each member had a style that was unique, helping to keep the audience’s attention. Blackout seemed to be the OG of sorts, calling the shots on who needs to be where, when and definitely had the most refined flow and comfort level. As can be the case with larger crews, the organization was lacking, and that took away from what was otherwise a good performance.
The Second Power was dynamic. Van Angeles commanded the attention of the audience, while a timid Klassic backed his vocals and sang hooks (and rapped a verse or two). Van Angeles’ style is definitely reminiscent of his west coast contemporaries, NWA. While his cadence and rhyme patterns mimicked that of late 80’s/early 90’s west coast gangsta rap, his message was one of peace, unity and love (not to say that those were non-exisitant in the music of groups like NWA). Whatever VA may have lacked in lyrical innovation, he more than made for in passion; VA certainly embodies the stage presence of an emcee. The duo served as a great pick-me-up early on.
LNC not only present an opportunity for the crowd to be blessed by hip hop’s often neglected fifth element, beat boxing, but they also brought their emcee “A-game”. The duo certainly connected with the audience to a much greater degree that they had two weeks prior. Later in the night, Qwel (Typical Cats) exclaimed that “[we] are lucky to have one of the best beat boxers around” here in San Diego. He later called Generik onto the stage and did a verse (or two) to the phenomenal sounds of Generik’s natural drum kit. The duo put on an engaging set definitely held the attention of the room.
Doug Masters and DJ Adamnt (2/3 of The West Indies) took the stage next. Doug Masters is clearly an excellent writer/lyricist and DJ Adamnt is a dope DJ. Masters, with the poise of a seasoned veteran, looked at home on the stage. One complaint, which could be made of many that night, is that he (among others) did not invite the audience into that home. Doug Masters was lyrically raw, had breath control and was backed by some amazing production, but he didn’t draw the audience in as one would expect someone with his experience to do. Roughly halfway through the set, the Kastle Creeps (and Amanda Jane for a song or two) joined The West Indies for what was an engaging set. There was a good amount of energy on the stage and the mixture of that energy drew the crowd in and was quite engaging. The Kastle Creeps are even more diverse from individual to individual than The Gutted Cigar Project, and the variation was nice.
Two weeks ago, Nikki and the Mongoloid caught my ear. The ladies seem to love to nerd out on having and using a vast vocabulary and to disseminate such using a Run DMC era flow atop very progressive and raw production by a plethora of relevant/current beatsmiths. The ladies have grown significantly over the past two weeks (and I believe the duo posted a status on FB explaining that they were puttin’ in work in the studio and practicing) and will continue to win over fans as they continue to progress and to grow in confidence.
Up next was Dapper Dan. DD’s cadence and patterns and subject matter were intricate, but he lacked a little in showmanship. Due to this lack, and that is all I truly believe, the emcee was eclipsed by the ridiculous production. The beats that Dapper Dan was afforded to write and record to were nothing short of flawless.
Audios’ set was quite a contrast when placed next to that of Dapper Dan. Audios was hustlin’ on stage; he delicately played a game of Jenga with a pig and a goat, changing their positions periodically throughout his performance. Audios looked flabbergasted that the crowd remained thin and relatively unamused with his tomfoolery, not to mention his solid delivery and great production. Eager to share his music both then and there and into the future, Audios spared no expense when reaching into his box of CDs and dispersing them by the handful into the crowd (one of which I acquired and will be reviewing on the blog soon).
Qwel, Qwazaar, Denizen Kane (with some help from UUW’s own DJ Leviathan) murdered their set, leaving any unbelieving standers by with no questions about why they have such a strong following. Typical Cats were dope. Any and anything anyone could possibly want out of a live music performance was present, and in abundance. The mutual sharing of energy, both giving to and feeding off of the crowd was great. The set was chock full of classic tracks, both old and new, individual artist performances, fully collaborative efforts, ridiculous lyricism over the full gamut of beats (including some of Qwel’s words being machine gunned at the crowd atop the beat boxing of Generik), and jaw dropping a-capella performances. Typical Cats are certainly a prominent jewel in the crown of hip hop and it is highly suggested that one head on over to Galapagos4 and cop the full catalogue if you do not already own it.
Peace and Love,
PS – Urban Underground Weekly will be moving to the last Wednesday of each month starting in June, which means an even more highly concentrated evening of quality hip hop. Do not miss the beat battle on the last Wednesday in June!!!