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[whitespace] Waiting for Legends

Too many MCs spoil the rap at Living Legends and Mystik Journeymen show

By David Espinoza

IT'S A GOOD THING Santa Cruz hip-hop heads are patient people. One would guess that after enduring two-plus hours of painfully dull opening MCs for underground faves Living Legends and the Mystik Journeymen at Palookaville last Friday (Feb. 9), even the most diehard B-boy or girl might start throwing produce at the next punk to get on stage.

In most cases where the headliner takes his or her sweet time at a hip-hop show, there's usually some decent filler DJ-ing going on to get the dance floor moving--no such thing Friday night. At times, the gig was more like a bad West Coast freestyling exercise, with a progressively worse act taking the stage every 20 minutes. Palookaville staff maintains that the headliners are the ones who decide who's on the bill. Fine. Here are the highlights of the MCs who played for the majority of the night.

Making his second round (as far this writer can remember) in town was the bald-headed wannabe playa Mic T, who proved, if anything, it is wiser to come prepared than come at all. With little skill and even less direction, Mr. Mic T plugged his new album about 16 times in the span of 20 minutes, received polite applause and got off stage. Before leaving though, Mic T did offer a moment of brilliance, which happened to be a convoluted rhyme: "The world is fucked, Bush is president."

The next crew up started off with the right amount of energy but sank quicker than a rowboat full of beavers. Sporting a Punisher T-shirt with a true country-bumpkin look on his face, MC Top Ramen, a.k.a. Topski, tried to rev up the audience, but it was a hard act to sell. After getting clowned by the folks up front, Ramen made a huge no-no and tried to defend his less-than-stimulating rhyming. Hey, it's not his fault his voice sounds like he needs an inhaler. Luckily, his fellow band mates recognized a truism of any aspiring MC: If the rhymes are lacking, just distract the audience by throwing out some free CDs or T-shirts--which they promptly did.

If getting people to walk away from the stage was a sport, then the four-member Anaconda took the gold. I'm guessing these guys are from L.A., as only the City of Angels could produce such a bizarre combination of sludgy industrial beats and rock & rolled hip-hop complete with a highly obnoxious Brad Pitt-looking (12 Monkeys version) speed rhymer and an extra from Braveheart. It was hard to tell if the four MCs were intentionally trying to jumble their voices when they chanted, "The better the artist, the harder they bite!"--or was it, "fight"? Either way, the challenging concept was present; the talent wasn't. The most interesting line I could decipher was "Just because we're cool, doesn't mean you can trust the white man"--lyrics spoken by a bunch of white guys.

An honorable mention goes out to the Cuff (possibly the Cusp--my hearing was fading by this point) from Sacramento, which was one of the few acts to really earn their keep. On a brighter note, Talib Kweli (who bailed out from a show in Santa Cruz last year) will play P-ville on March 11.

Battle of the Bands

As if last year's joke of an election wasn't enough to make folks gag at the sight of another ballot, the always cutting-edge staff at Stevenson College has put together a rock-the-vote Battle of the Bands show for Saturday (Feb. 17) in the Dining Hall--sort of. Not to be confused with another voter registration drive, the audience will decide which of six bands from all over Cali best rocked the house. The bill includes a few locals, including pop-punk cuties the Huxtables, modern rockers Lesterjett (offshoot of Sidecar) and the funky Cruz Control. The other three are out-of-towners: Pepperstomp, I Decline and Enda. Showtime is at 2:30pm, and tix are $7 at the door.

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From the February 14-21, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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