Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bossman, Skarr Akbar, D.O.G., Sonny Grams, Q, Dirty Hearts, ABM and others
@ The Ottobar
Sunday, October 16th


I got to the show maybe 20 minutes after it was supposed to start, and it was already so full inside there was a crowd waiting outside the door, and things were getting a little anxious. The Ottobar is generally an indie rock club and I've seen dozens of shows there, but I don't know if they really know how to handle a rap show like this, or if they were expecting this kind of turnout for a bunch of local artists. And there were more police at the show than I've ever seen at an Ottobar show (which is to say, more than zero). Waiting outside, I saw Kelly Connelly from Music Monthly and introduced myself. I've been reading her Street Beat column for a long time, she's been covering the Baltimore hip hop movement really thoroughly for years, big respect to her, so it was cool to meet her and find out she's seen Gov't Names and my work for the City Paper. It was starting to become a mob scene outside, with Ottobar staff saying that if you don't have a pre-purchased ticket or are with a performer, you can't get in. Turned out 20 of the 30 people standing outside were with Skarr Akbar. That dude pretty much travels with his own personal army, not for nothing do they call him The General. I was starting to wonder if we'd ever get in there, but we managed to muscle in as members of the press and all that. I don't know who went on before I got inside, but it sounded like Tyree Colion might've been onstage while I was stuck outside. But I saw him after the show and copped a CD from him and got the info about his release party/video shoot that was in my last post.

When I got inside, D.O.G. and the Invisible Set were onstage. D.O.G. kinda came out of nowhere in the last few months from not being real well known locally to his soft R&B type track "Hello" becoming one of the most requested songs on 92Q. But his live show is more straight hip hop, D.O.G. onstage wearing the Biggie w/ crown shirt, bandana, sunglasses that he didn't take off the entire time he was in the club, songs like "Higher" and other stuff on his new mixtape, and even when he did "Hello" it was just one verse of it over the "So Seductive" beat. He stayed in the crowd and watched a lot of people perform after him, which I give him respect for, not a lot of the performers did that.

Q came out next and rocked a short set. He was introduced as "one of them radio dudes" and when he talked during his set he came off semi-apologetic, semi-defensive about it, like "yeah, I got a beat from Rod Lee because I wanted to get on the radio", which is pretty much his main claim to fame so far, the song "No". At the end of his set, though, he laid down this long a cappella freestyle, kinda introspective and all about his career, just full of real talk, and that really won people over and he got a big applause at the end.



Skarr Akbar's set was just vicious, him and his Arabz crew plus who knows how many other people onstage wearing "Skarr Akbar Is The Streets" shirts, nothing but hardcore, aggressive material, one song I recognized from his old mixtapes and a bunch of new stuff. He called me a few days before the show to make sure I was coming and said he had a new mixtape out, and he said hi to me real quick after he performed but I think he left quick after that and I never got the mixtape, so I'm gonna have to get that from him soon.

There were a lot of people on the bill, some of whom I know or am very familiar with their music, some I only vaguely know or straight up had not heard of. And no disrespect to the no-names that came out and did their thing. There was a guy named Woods, who bragged that he had come straight from a video shoot, and had all his video hoes come up onstage to dance during his single. The ABM crew, from All Bout Music Records, probably set the record of the night for most people in promotional tees, and the largest variety of logos and shirt designs. They came on after Skarr and said some dumb cocky shit like "we wanna thank everyone who performed before us for opening for us" which deservedly got some boos. Mostly it was all peace in the room the whole night, but it's like they say, Baltimore is a town full of crabs, and a lot of people here just hate on anyone outside their own crew.

There were some people who were good. I kinda wish some of the lesser known performers would identify themselves more, even the ones who repped their company or their crew constantly wouldn't mention their individual names a lot of times. Like, who was the big dude in the white and yellow jacket that was onstage with Sonny Grams? That dude was amazing, easily one of the best MCs on the stage that night. DJ Debonair Samir was up onstage for a while. Dirty Hearts were alright. There was one dude out of their crew who started freestyling, and he kept going even after the DJ cut off the beat, and he pretty much kept going as fast as possible just so noone would get a chance to stop and he just hogged the mic with this frantic doubletime style and ended up coming up with some pretty ridiculous rhymes. It was kind of an uncomfortable moment but still a good performance.



By the time Bossman finally hit the stage I was in the back bar chilling and didn't even realize at first that he was on. It was his usual crew, Dollars and Tony Manson from N.E.K., and they ran through a set of almost entirely new material from the new Bossman/DJ Envy mixtape they were selling at the show, This Is A Warning. Started with "Absence of Hope", went into that ridiculous new track "Jackin 4 Beatz" where Bossman rhymes over like 20 different beats in quick succession. Only old song he did was "Oh", and even that just the beginning, and then went into a fucking sick new song that loops up the "tinted Crown Vic's with the hundred spoke tires" slowed down to screwed speed, which kinda made me mad, no joke, I had an idea for a track with that line as part of the hook.

The only real incident of the whole night happened in the middle of Bossman's set, when 2 dudes, neither of which was with NEK, started scrapping in the back of the stage over by the DJ, somebody attacking one of the people with a video camera or something. It happened right between songs when Bossman was talking about how he buys everyone else's CDs and supports people and still gets hated on because he's at the top, too. The cops immediately showed up onstage and it didn't escalate but it kinda fucked up the set. Somehow the DJ's gear got unplugged for a minute, I think DJ Spontaneous was DJing the whole night, but the mics were on, so Bossman did some a cappella shit and found someone who could beatbox, and did the song "Let's Go" (which he did at the Ogun release party back in April and said that was his next single, but I've yet to hear a studio version of that anywhere). Bossman also did "Untouchable" and the new single "Handclap" (which for some reason isn't on the new mixtape but you can download it here), I think he said they're shooting the video for that soon.

After Bossman's set, there were still some people going onstage and performing, but things were winding down and a lot of people were leaving and the people left weren't even paying attention to the stage. There were more people watching Bossman talk to a camera for someone's DVD than whoever was onstage. I left shortly after, but I pretty much saw most of the show, and of the billed performers, Huli Shallone, Mullyman and Paula Campbell were no-shows, as far as I know. Tim Trees was on the radio that night and said he'd be there, but I called his manager Manny because I''d exchanged some e-mails with him lately, and they sounded like they weren't sure if they were coming, especially after I told them about the crowd waiting out front. I heard something about Little Clayway and April Love being there, and they had posters up in the club, but I didn't see them perform.

Towards the end of the show, I talked to Kelly Connelly some more and she introduced me to C-Love, who I've seen around at a lot of local shows and who organizes the monthly Style Warz battles. I'd talked to her through e-mail recently and linked her blog, so it was nice to meet her. It was also cool to meet DNA for a minute and get a mixtape and a business card from him. All in all a cool night, kind of a long show and not always that well organized, but I respect everyone involved for putting it together and getting a bill that good to happen, even if not with all the people billed.

(Bossman photo by Jefferson Jackson Steele)

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Comments:
Skar akbar is a clown and so is mcintosh.
 
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