Art Don’t Sleep presents: Ghostface Killah | 12 Reasons to Die with Adrian Younge’s Venice Dawn

429691_10200429501167479_848572597_nHip hop is so much bigger than music. Hip hop is a community. While that community may adhere to philosophies spanning from chopped samples and dirty drum breaks to over-produced, mainstream rap, we do agree on two things, beats and rhymes. Regardless of one’s tastes/preferences, every hip hop head believes the music he/she puts into heavy rotation provides a sound that evokes and invokes an emotional response and lyrics that somehow connect to said listener’s life experience. No matter who was in attendance at the Mayan on March 28th, 2013, he/she was musically satisfied.

Speaking of community, I was blessed to spend the first hour or so of the opening DJ set with DJ Artistic, Dr. Oop and MemezOne. Shout out to Artistic for everything, Oop for the White Russian and chopping it up, and Memez for the good conversation.

The master of ceremonies for the first half of the show was DJ Mark Luv (who would later pass the torch to the IE’s Trek Life due to his role as DJ for Wax Poetics‘ artist Adrian Younge‘s band, Venice Dawn). Mark Luv comes from the pre-Golden Era of hip hop, and gets aggressive when the lackluster attitudes of current rap culture pervade an audience at real hip hop show; some reprimanding was in order and Mark Luv was happy to dole it out. Peace to Mark Luv and the Art Don’t Sleep family for putting on an excellent (5-hour) night of hip hop.

You know you are in for a treat of a night when LA’s own Blu is the first of the openers; he, and Exile’s stand in (due to a recent surgery recovery), San Diego’s DJ Artistic of Sleeping Giant and No Sucker DJs, would also serve as the platform for much of the Dirty Science roster to perform on. Blu, who must be somewhat of an awkward introvert, delivered his phenomenal content, old and new, yet lacked connection with his audience, which is all too common and is odd due to his confident delivery and presence on his recorded music.

The first to accompany Blu on stage was Stones Throw emcee MED, whose track This Is Your Life feat. Blu and produced by Exile is so dope, who came out and killed the mic. As Blu did a couple more tracks, DagSavage‘s Johaz was vibin out with DJ Artistic and their chemistry (probably from their work as half of SD’s Deep Rooted) was tangible. Next to share the stage with Blu was Tristate, and the two did their verses from a track titled Thelonius King, produced by Bombay – this beat most definitely made an impression on the audience! Co$$ and Blu then performed their collaborative effort, Heroin, which, I believe, transitioned into DagSavage’s Drugs featuring Co$$ and Choosey (aka Makeshift). Upon Johaz’ stepping foot onstage, the night picked up; his energy (reminiscent of Busta Rhymes’ energy, yet uniquely different) is infectious! The track was dope and the standout verse was by the smallest emcee in the bunch, King Choosey, whose presence and delivery demanded the audience’s attention and reciprocation. Johaz of DagSavage did a couple more tracks, the height of which was his collaboration with Stones Throw crooner, Aloe BlaccWhen it Rains – ILL! As the Dirty Science set was coming to an end, the legendary DJ Houseshoes, whose birthday it was, was getting set up for his DJ set, and Blu rounded it out with the amazing, Maybe One Day.

Fingerprints Music‘s hip hop aficcionado was in attendance and showed SAC love with a handshake and hug – dude will keep you up on what your record collection is missing!

Househoes took over on the ones and twos and killed it! The birthday boy is a true professional and master of his craft and he led us down a road of original production and some great music – two of the highlights of the thorough set were Slum Village’s Dilla-produced Fall In Love and De La Soul’s Much More off of their 2004 album, Grind Date.

Next up were West Coast producer The Alchemist and East Coast emcee Roc Marciano who put on a hard hitting set wherein the production brought levity to the agressive and violent wordplay of Roc Marciano. Roc Marciano went in and The Alchemist barely gave him breathing room between tracks, but a guest appearance by LA king of the slow flow, Evidence, gave him a breath and the audience definitely showed love to the hometown hero.

Mark Luv passed the MC duties along to Trek Life and stepped behind the ones and twos, and Trek Life kept the night moving smoothly, though many in attendance weren’t familiar with him and therefore didn’t really pay him any mind… until Mark Luv smiled at him, gave him a nod and let the needle drop on his single, Just the Music, produced by Duke Westlake, off of his forthcoming album, Hometown Foreigner (Which drops 04.02.2013 – I heavily suggest you click HERE and buy it). Maintaining the audience’s attention was much easier after the performance.

As the anticipation for the headlining event built and fans became restless, SD’s Gaslamp Killer (of LA’s Low End Theory) changed the vibe yet again, shocking some, entertaining some and leading his fans through his labyrinth of hip hop infused 60’s and 70’s soul, rock and other. If you haven’t yet, make sure to make it out to Low End Theory and catch DJ Willow, I mean the Gaslamp Killer, doing his thing.

The moment we had all been waiting for… was somewhat muddled by eager Ghostface fans who didn’t quite share the Wu-Tang member’s appreciation for music and theater (I heard “f*** this, put Ghostface on” a lot as the Adrian Younge-led drama built). Regardless of the unappreciative listeners’ less-refined ear, the music lovers soaked in every second of Adrian Younge and Venice Dawn’s instrumentation, accompanied by beautiful singing – perhaps the emcee was running late and there was a bit of improvisation, but if one has to be stalled, he is privileged to be stalled by one of our generations finest producers. All of the characters, Adrian, the band, costumed singers, gothic girls in red shawls, etc. were introduced and out comes the man of the evening, Ghostface Killah, of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. Dope. Ghostface’s hype man was none other than his Wu affiliate, Killah Priest, and we were also blessed by a verse from the RZA as well! The emcee and Adrian Younge took us through songs, new (off of the forthcoming 12 Reasons to Die) and old, all of which were played live by the band with finishing touches placed delicately by Mark Luv on the wheels of steel. A fun point in the set was when two audience members were chosen to rap an ODB verse (the first killed it and the second stumbled a bit – both got mad love from Ghostface Killah); not something you usually see at a concert, and a refreshing touch for sure.

The night was a hip hop head’s dream come true and possibly a standard-setting show, calling hip hop artists to step their live show game up!

We suggest you catch one of the upcoming 40 shows on the Twelve Reasons To Die Tour.

Peace and Love,



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