Rock Report: Sol.illaquists of Sound @ Crowbar (06.09.07)

“some say that hip hop’s dead… and towards those people who believe that… we would like to offer this: hip hop’s not dead… it’s just certain peoples careers within hip hop that are dead.. they don’t want to admit that though. haha… it’s time for the new wave of hip hop to shine, so get out the way and let us do our thing.” ~ Swamburger, Crowbar 2007

Solilla brought their hiphop revolution to Ybor City on Saturday night for everyone with open ears. Along the way, they also brought fellow hiphop revivalists Grey Matter and DJ J Storm to the tent for the sermon.

Honestly, I don’t get out to as many hiphop shows as I would like, but I always seem to make it to the best shows. This show was no different. First up was Grey Matter. No dancing girls, no bells, no whistles. A DJ with a beat and an MC with a rhyme. The beauty of the minimalism is that there was nothing left to focus on except the songs. Lesser acts may crumble under such simplicity, but Illustrate’s writing is up to task. I had never heard of these guys before this show but I hope to hear more from them in the near future. Let’s hope that a talented pair with intelligent and thoughtful lyrics don’t get swept to the side in favor of dancing girls and stadium chants.

Next to the stage was DJ J Storm. Grey Matter’s Illustrate introduced him by calling him one of the 5 best DJ’s you (meaning us, the crowd) will ever get to see in person. A tall order for sure but to quote Casius Clay, “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true”. Personally, I had never had the chance to see a turntablist in person. It is ridiculous. So much going on. I think I would have to see this guy a couple of more times to truly wrap my head around it, but it was awesome. He is probably the best DJ I have ever witnessed in person.

Finally the time had come for S.O.S. to deliver the knockout punch. DaVinci brought his MPC’s out to play, sometimes with his hands, other times with his elbows, and when push came to shove he was even seen playing one with his face. All the while, Swam and Alexandrah delivered their politcal and spritual based songs with the spot on rapid fire nimble tongued delivery fans have come to expect. Swam even took time in the middle of the set to shine a light on the silliness of the current hiphop scene and remind everyone where hiphop really came from. He also showed off his old school dance steps, from the running man to the moonwalk. Hitting on favorites such as Market Place, Black Guy Peace and Ur Turn they had the crowd firmly in their hands. My only complaint was that the show just wasn’t long enough but a man much wiser than me once said “Always leave them wanting more”.

They did.

All in all, the night was a celebration of what is right with the often maligned (both fairly and unfairly), misunderstood and misrepresented scene of hiphop. Hopefully Tampa/St. Pete can see more of such nights in the future.

Grey Matter – No Question
DJ J Storm – The Number One Contender
Solillaquists of Sound – As If We Existed

Tampa/St. Pete….To Do….Saturday night:

They blew me away when they opened for The Roots. Then the cd showed up and the awe from the show was reinforced by stellar track after stellar track. Now you have a chance to be blow away, too. I’ll quote from The Roots review:

a social hiphop act with (1) male rapper, (1) female rapper/singer, (1) female backup vocals and (1) guy on the drum machines. They sound sort of like The Black Eyed Peas if B.E.P. was still making descent music. With politically charged lyrics heavy on social and self awareness. Notice I did not mention a DJ in their lineup? They have this guy…he has 3 drum machines and he plays them things like pianos. It is truly awe inspiring to watch live as he plays 90% of the music live.

Solilla will be playing at The Crowbar this Saturday night. Doors are at 9:00 and tickets are a mere nine dollars. Whether you like hip hop or not, if you like good shows you should come see these guys.

Hope to see some of y’all there.

Sol.illaquists of Sound – Mark It Place
Sol.illaquists of Sound – Ask Me If I Care
Sol.illaquists of Sound – Black Guy Peace

Sol.illaquists of Sound Official Site, Sol.illaquists of Sound on Myspace, Buy As If We Existed

Introducing: Sol.illaquists of Sound

If sound is essentially a movement, ultimately the fate of the movement lies within me – Tony CombsDid you know the Black Eyed Peas before Fergie?

Sellout is a term I try to avoid. Instead, I point to the moment bands start to suck. Fergie was B.E.P.’s fonzie moment. If you long for the B.E.P. before Fergie I wanna show you something even tighter, and better: Sol.illaquists of Sound.

I have a friend who writes for Reax Magazine and when they named Solilla best hip-hop act in Florida I gave her a rash of shit. It was obvious. They are signed to a big label and, well, let’s be honest, Florida hasn’t been known for hip-hop since Luke Skywalker. My major contention with their award was I thought it unfair. At the time I had heard about 4 Solilla songs. Now, after owning the cd and seeing them live, I wouldn’t give Reax or anyone shit for naming them best band in Florida….and it is unfair, cause they’re just that freaking good. It’s like watching the little league tapes of an NFL star in retrospect…there just isn’t any competition. The real muthafucker of it is that as good as they are…you ain’t gonna hear ’em. Why? I’ll quote myself from my Cunninlynguists article:

muthafuckers ain’t hearin’ ’em. Whole god damned world talks about bullshit like Fitty, and Lloyd Banks, and fucking Mike Jones, and whatever other fucking pop-rapper is spelling a tennis shoe brand on Clear Channel instead of looking past the spoon in their face.

That’s why. They’re too good for mainstream success. BEP hired Fergie and chased the paper. On one hand I can not blame them on the other….FEH. Back to S.O.S.
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First and foremost. S.O.S. does not sound or look like a typical hip-hop band. There ain’t no turntables on stage and the girls in the band ain’t showing you half their titties and all their ass. DiViNCi is the man behind the music. He plays MPCs. You have to see that shit live to even get it, so I ain’t even gonna put it in words. I will say this: He plays those machines like politicians lie. With such a grace and efficiency that you can’t believe what you see. It’s real though. And all those MPC’s (drum machines for the confused) make S.O.S.’s sound sometimes techno, occasionally industrial, sometimes hip-hop, but always fresh. Then….shit. Then you got Swamburger and Alexandrah manning the mics. Swam raps and Alexandra sings their way through a message of self-love, respect, and knowledge within the confines of a culture which seems designed to mute personal expression and freedom.” These people are probably better than anything on your iPod. Don’t believe me? Listen to the samples below. More importantly. Go see these guys live. If you can see this band live and not be a fan, then you’re not a fan of…fuck…not just hip-hop…you’re not a fan of music. Here is a real world example of how good these guys are live: My friends rescheduled their Key West trip to be in town for their June 9 show here in Tampa.

And after all of that love you knew I was putting this album on the Essential Listening list! I’ll also say this. As If We Existed is the best hiphop cd I have heard since I heard Cunninlynguists – A Piece of Strange came out in Jan. of 2006.

Sol.illaquists of Sound – Mark It Place
Sol.illaquists of Sound – Ask Me If I Care
Sol.illaquists of Sound – Black Guy Peace

Sol.illaquists of Sound Official Site, Sol.illaquists of Sound on Myspace, Buy As If We Existed