[Metroactive Music]

[ Music Index | Santa Cruz | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

[whitespace] Hip-Hop Marathon

By Mike Connor

Yup, I've been writing a lot about hip-hop lately, but it's difficult not to when it seems to be pushing for a hostile takeover of Santa Cruz. With three major shows within four days last week at the Catalyst, 'twas an endurance (and paycheck) test for hip-hop heads round here. It started off slowly on Tuesday night with Doctor Octagon, a.k.a. Kool Keith, who showed up looking a bit like Big Worm with his hair (?) all grown out, combed out and dolled up. Due to a relatively light turnout, the show started (and ended) earlier than I expected. The part I caught was entertaining, with many proclamations of Keith's genius thrown about by his adoring partner MCs, one of whom was dressed all in bright-yellow rain gear. The show ended on a strange note, with Eddie Holman singing "Hey There Lonely Girl" while all the MCs waved goodbye and shrugged their shoulders resignedly (as if to say "we tried") at the sparse audience, which in other venues might have seemed pretty substantial. Seven people getting live in a cramped living room can seem like a party, but in the Catalyst pit, 250 people looks like a few friends getting together to eat chips and play video games.

Thursday night's show was a whole different story. Mega props go out Left Coast Presents and Governor Productions for having the swinging cahones to put on a major hip-hop show the day before Santa Cruz's hip-hop sweetheart Del The Funky Homosapien came to do his thing. Citing a need to bring some hip-hop other than the same handful of acts we see on a rotating basis every year or so, these promoters snagged Pharoahe Monch, Cee-Lo, Kardinal Offishall and MC Supernatural from their current tour on the one day that it would work, which just so happened to be the day before a guaranteed sell-out hip-hop show. Their faith in SC ticket-buying hip-hop heads paid off. The show was packed with a rowdy crowd of kids anxious to see another level of hip-hop in town. After our local boys the Lost and Found Generation warmed up the crowd, MC Supernatural busted out a tight set, wrapping it up with his "Anything" routine in which he rhymes about, well, anything that anybody holds up for his inspection. Shoes, shirts, CD players and spliffs all made their way into his seamless freestyle rhymes. Inspired by his improvisational antics, fledgling MCs battled each other in little ciphers outside the Catalyst between sets. Fortunately, most of the kids battling had some serious skills, mercilessly skewering each other as happy-faced onlookers marveled at their wordsmithing. But there was still plenty to see inside, like the Closet Freak, a.k.a. Cee-Lo, dressed in camouflage fatigues, twitching like Smokey and getting crunk with his big, bad self. Although he dropped some tracks from his new album, his set was filled with covers, from "Eye of the Tiger" to Spandau Ballet's "True" to Bill Withers' "Just the Two of Us," all spiced up with his trademark freaky stylings. Hell, a "Stairway to Heaven" sample even made it into the set as a tribute to those dearly departed. Closing out the evening was Mr. Pharoahe Monch, who slaughtered the Catalyst like some sacrificial cow. I've seen a lot of shows in SC, but when the horns of "Simon Says" started wailing, I've never seen a crowd blow up like they did when Monch yelled "Get the fuck up!" He commanded and a sea of heads and arms obeyed. When he came out for his encore, he was greeted with a blast of screaming energy so loud it made the hardcore MC stop and laugh. The next night was noticeably tamer, although the Cali Comm tour (Lifesavas, Motion Man, the People Under the Stairs and Del) was solid, with highlights coming from the Lifesavas livening up the crowd, and former local boy Kutmaster Kurt playing the role of the Hasidic DJ Yahweh for Motion Man.

[ Santa Cruz | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the November 27-December 4, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.