Baltimore Hip Hop has pretty much played second fiddle to its bouncier kinfolk Club Music for a long while now. What I've noticed in the past is a disconnect with the target audience here in Charm City. There also has been a divide with local hip hop artists, not showing the unity necessary to put The City That Reads on the hip hop map. Truthfully, I can't quite put my finger on that dividing reason. Maybe jealousy, the crabs in the barrel syndrome, or something more deep-rooted has caused hip hop artists to not rally around each other, for the most part, around these parts. I've been fortunate enough to observe and grow with hop culture from its infancy, so it's always troubled me that Baltimoreans weren't support enough, in my humble opinion, when it came to a music driven by the pain and angst that our urban streets presented. Baltimore is a blue-collar city built on a solid work ethic, but it's also an "inside the box" community that sometimes is afraid to expand it's horizons, for better or for worse.
That's why Wednesday, April 28th was a nice curveball to the normally mundane hip hop existence our region suffers from. Taste Lounge, located in South Baltimore (not considered a hot bed for hip hop in this fair city of ours), was the venue for The DMV Takeover Independent Artist Showcase. This event offered an opportunity for independent, up and coming artists the chance to shine in an area notorious for not giving the love and support artists need. Hosted by Dion (9 West Barber Shop), this dope event was a welcome relief to the local shows lacking organization and direction. I knew I was in for a very good event once I walked through the doors and listened to the collection of underground music DJ Black Wizard was blessing the crowd with. Hearing "Exhibit C" by Jay Electronica was a blessing, but listening to Little Brother emcee Phonte on "Tigallo For Dolo" blaring through the speakers put me in a positive state of mind for the rest of the evening.
Before I go any further, I definitely need to shout out budding businessman and local entertainment mogul Lewis Williams, whose Consumer Voice Entertainment Group was a vital part of the evening's festivities. He is indeed an important cog in the local entertainment machinery. It's good to see an intelligent and energetic give AND show love to the regional music scene. That was quite evident as the crowd thickened throughout the evening. The event was scheduled from 9PM-2AM; I stayed at the venue to observe, network, and show love for a few hours.
The first up to entertain the growing Taste Lounge crowd was Fly Boys. Unfortunately, technical issues prevented this crew from blessing those in attendance with any material. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that the diverse crowd of fly chicks and hardrocks didn't bring any negativity to the obviously disappointed group. "On to the next one", as Jay Hova would say. C4 was next to perform, and gave a cool performance and kept the crowd captivated. Once C4 finished their set, Ahmed-The Last Born Child, grabbed the mic. This dope lyricist spit intelligent and thought-provoking lyrics, which is ALWAYS a good thing in my lyrics-first mind. He ended his set with an appropriate tribute to Gang Starr emcee Guru, who passed away a week prior. Next to hit the stage was CVEG artist E.N.V.I.E., who performed some noticeable joints like "Jump Back" and "American Psycho". E.N.V.I.E. is one of the doper emcees in the DMV region, in my opinion. The emcee and artist that probably captured the attention of the showcase crowd the most was Slay, another CVEG artist. His set was filled with energy, and those in attendance were definitely feeling his performance (which included a couple of changes in his swag uniform). Once this lyrical emcee was complete his set, the deepest crew in the venue took to the stage. GSM had AT LEAST 18 individuals on stage, so it was somewhat difficult to distinguish the emcees from the rest of the crew. Nevertheless, they made their presence felt throughout the venue, and the crowd showed love to GSM. I compare them to M.O.P. and Wu-Tang with their stage presence. Other notables included General Beatz One, Murdaland Murk, and Red Bull. Green Eyes was also in the house, representing the Turntable Takeover program from WKSH Da Beat Radio. Once The Donk contest commenced, I knew it was my time to vacate the premises.
All in all, the night spent at that South Baltimore club was well worth it. I had the opportunity to meet some intriguing individuals who are looking to not only put Baltimore on the proverbial hip hop map, but are actually developing a united front, something that has been missing in this area, like I stated earlier. I look forward to the next dope event at Taste Lounge featuring more talent from the DMV.