347 North Calvert Street was the place to be on June 3rd, as four dope emcees took to the stage for The Line-Up. Slay, E.N.V.I.E., Ahmed The Last Born Child, and Nephew were the featured performers for The Line-Up, a showcase to illuminate the talents of these artists and the Consumer Voice Entertainment Group family. The energy and excitement could be felt the entire evening at Club 347, because a truly dope show was on the horizon.
Music was provided by DJ Black Wizard for the event, and he spun great hip hop throughout the evening, such as “Simon Says” by Pharoahe Monch, “Ice Cream” by Wu-Tang Clan, and “Award Tour” by A Tribe Called Quest. I had the opportunity to mix and mingle with the growing crowd before the festivities took place. Anticipation was in the air for the artists and crowd. One of the performers, Nephew, had the chance to talk with me prior to the actual concert taking place. He discussed how excited and amped he was to be a part of this hometown showcase of real hip hop talent. Ahmed, Slay, and E.N.V.I.E. could be seen networking and interacting with the excited audience.
Hosting duties for the evening were handled by Big Mama. First to hit the stage was Slay (also known as Slayer T). Joined by his hype man and partner in rhyme for the evening, Slay started off strong, performing crowd favorite “I’m From Maryland Bitch” with energy and fervor. Even though the sound system and mics weren’t the most forgiving, Slay managed to control the stage and audience with his captivating presence on the mic. Slayer T used the venue to his advantage, utilizing the men’s bathroom as a quick dressing room in the middle of his performance. Slay is an metaphorical phenom cut from the emcee cloth of Eminem, and you could feel the passion in his delivery during the hot performance.
Next to grab the microphone was B-more emcee E.N.V.I.E., another crowd favorite for the night. Performing Jump Back, E.N.V.I.E. felt right at home on stage at Club 347, never allowing the sporadic mic feedback to detract from his stage show. Once he blessed the crowd with “American Psycho”, the 347 contingent went wild. E.N.V.I.E. showcased his charismatic style throughout his set, and the audience showed much love. Finishing strong over the Gang Starr classic “DWYCK”, E.N.V.I.E. paid respect to fallen Gang Starr emcee Guru with the call and response, “Guru, rest in peace”. It is quite evident that E.N.V.I.E. is primed for exposing his lyrical prowess to Baltimore and beyond.
After a brief intermission, with DJ Black Wizard supplying the sounds, Big Momma introduced the next emcee on the bill, Ahmed The Last Born Child. He brings a stage presence that you do not find in the normal crop of hip hop artists. Ahmed is quite capable of capturing the attention of any listener by the pure power in his lyrics. He commenced to “test the mic” with an a capella verse full of witty wordplay and intelligence. The emcee went through his catalogue of insightful, everyman songs that someone could easily identify with, and that is one of the endearing qualities when listening to Ahmed The Last Born Child. Once he finished his set on stage, you knew you were given a staunch lesson in the art of storytelling.
Closing out the show, Nephew brought the energy and passion to the microphone. He also had the packed house captivated from the moment he stepped on stage. Hungry doesn’t do justice to Nephew when describing his passion onstage. Nephew used every inch of the the stage area to showcase songs from his project Phewturistic Biography. The packed house at Club 347 held onto every word spit by the budding emcee. Nephew showed love to his crew by bringing them onstage to share the spotlight, and that energy exuded could be felt throughout the venue. Song after song performed brought the heat, and it was a fitting end to the performance aspect of The Line-Up.
Even though the performances were over, the networking and industry love was present for the rest of the evening. There were many local hip hop artists at Club 347 to show support and love, including B-more emcee Comp. Outside, Deep Flow Studios head Amotion was interviewing each of the artists. Ms. Understood and Christian from The Edge also gave crucial camera time to the performers and CVEG family. Much credit was due to Lewis Williams, the Baltimore-bred dynamo with a vivid vision for the purpose of Consumer Voice Entertainment Group. CVEG family members, such as TJ Hightower and Donita “NitaBeat” Blackwell, also showed much love and support for the cause. Overall, The Line-Up showcased a Baltimore hip hop scene that is burgeoning and bubbling with talent, a scene poised to shine light on Charm City as much more than the home of “The Wire”. This first taste at Club 347 was only a teaser for what is to come from Consumer Voice Entertainment Group.