“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”.
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.