I’ve anticipated this event before I even knew about it, and even before that – way back when Antonio “PAZ1” Appling freestyled on scratch paper during class, my own verse, all about me. And it was one of the best rhymes I had ever heard, that I never actually heard – and a piece of paper I still cherish to this day (damn right I still have it, somewhere). Fast forward many years and now thePiecemakers (PAZ1 and KnewBalance) come to their hometown, San Diego, for their first headlining show at the Lamppost Cafe – the first time I get see them perform live. You bet I was there.
Holding back tears (unsuccessfully), this show made me feel reunited with my good ol’ underground hip hop days. The perfect blend of venue, artists, conscious audience, live music (a LIVE band!), and truly compelling performances – I got the hip hop fix I didn’t know I was fiending for. Emceeing, beat-boxing, live art, DJing, (and had I not had a camera round my neck, I would have busted a rusty 6-step with a freeze pose) – all the elements of Hip Hop present-ly present in one room.
A perfect duet with lyrics jam packed with depth, poetry, and artistic lyricism, overwhelmingly reclaiming repressed memories of hip hop. Incredibly articulate, KnewBalance waves his vowels along the foreheads of the audience and sketches his consonants in the lights. A true story teller, he paints a perfect picture of the lyrics so passionately when he performs, making him captivating to watch. Paz1 speaks from his soul with a voice manufactured for a microphone. So melodic, making the mic and the audience hungry for more. A short minute feels like miles with how much movement and meaning he puts in his Mastering of Ceremonies. Together, their dynamic is a must experience live, and their live band was so necessary to match and amplify their liveliness.
I love it when artists perform their music and it sounds way different from their respective recordings. Makes me feel proud to be there watching, listening, and experiencing this moment. thePiecemakers’ EP-1 is a much different experience in its recorded incarnation; a smooth ride, accompanied with helpless hypnotic head nodding to the beat. Such a smooth time-altering ride, the EP is over before you know it, and you must listen again. The live performance, however, is a riveting, emotional, inspiring, and uniting event. The brightest highlight performances of the night included the cadence/delivery battle between KnewBalance and PAZ1 with beat-boxer Noise, as well as the following three songs: Weep, Palaces, and Anthem. Wherever and whenever there is a next show, I urge you to go, and you might see me there.
*The opening performers were also a treat. Fantastic to have seen them. I have to take a moment to commend iLL Cozby aka Relm Diggie from Buckeye City, Ohio for his, also quite compelling, performance. Not only did he bring even more hip hop to the Lamppost stage, he gave a one man (dressed in all white) performance that every single audience member was glued to. I don’t know if the man goes to church, but he sure did that night on stage. His hip hop rendition about his mother and a piano version of Linkin Park’s In The End adorned with his heavily socially aware lyricism were incredibly beautiful and moving. Definitely another highlight of my night.
Thank you to thePiecemakers, Lamppost, and all involved in this event.
This is Hip Hop,
**All photos courtesy of Nyx as well**