Swollen Members @ Urban Lounge

Posted November 19, 2009 in
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Swollen Members
The Urban Lounge
with Common Market and Big B

Swollen Members coming to town is always a big event: big crowds, big bass, blunts and blow. Emcee Prevail’s birthday coincided with the day of the show, so plenty of people were showing their appreciation in fragrant ways. These Canadian rappers, several time over winners of the Juno award (Canadian Grammys) for best rap group, did it up right and we’ll get to them in a bit.

I’d heard, and heard of, Common Market before, but never really had a chance to see them—until Swollen Members made it happen. And Common Market was good—I’d say great. Their Northwest-infused rap flavorings were concrete and along the lines of what some call enlightened hip-hop, in direct opposition to its gangsta/crunk/whatever-the-fuck-they-play-on-U92 “hip-hop” cousin. Some “real” hip-hop heads were there only for that set then bounced out. I can’t necessarily blame them, because Big B. was up next. I’m not saying I’m not a fan of Mr. B. but I am not a fan of Mr. B. Big white dudes who take their shirts off to reveal Cadillac logos are no-goes in my book of hip-hop no-noes. And as the strains of a song I have had to play too many times for too many stupid people, “Sinner”—Big B.’s colloboration with Unwritten Law (a really shitty band, by the way)—came over Urban’s speakers I felt a decidedly un-quit need for a smoke on the patio. I escaped from all the fans that seemed to be losing their shit over something I really couldn’t comprehend. Big B. didn’t seem like enlightened hip-hop, he seemed more aligned with whatever-the-fuck-they-play-on-U92.

Which set the stage perfectly for Swollen Members. In all reality, these guys straddle the line between honkies (though ½ the gang were gentlemen of colour) making rap music and enlightened hip hop. I first fell in love with their beats, originally produced by Moka Only, another BC emcee, and Rob the Viking (the current production man/touring DJ on BattleAxe Records). The production has changed over the years and I don’t know if I dig them as much as I once did. The show was great, tight, crowd was into it, but I think I would have preferred seeing them a few years ago. Tre Nyce, a new Battle Axe emcee joined the stage which lent some cred to the proceedings and his solo stuff was pretty good. I have seen Swollen Members before, sans Mad Child (head MC/Battle Axe rec. founder) due to some border issues, but never the full troupe. I found that he is definitely crucial for a good Swollen Members set. And he is still shorter than you’d think he’d be, not over 5’6” maybe—hard to believe because he’s a “mad” shittalker and has a voice like a strangled lion.

Mad Child also seemed to have something really stuck in his nose for the amount of sniffing he was doing (I don’t think it was a cold, kids) right before he went on stage. I think his stage antics may have been fueled by something other than the energy drink he was slamming before he went on.  This made me feel like watching Babe Ruth shoot steroids before hitting a homerun: “fallen” idols leave bad tastes in my mouth. And before you get all huffy—I’m the last person to judge someone’s substance use but there’s a line called professionalism that I think shouldn’t be crossed no matter how much you think “rock ‘n’ roll” and blow go together. Allowances were personally made for the fact that it was Prev’s birthday…but nonetheless—I could rock a crowd, that huge and that amped, more sober than a nun.

The Point: catch Swollen Members anytime you can and see Common Market as soon as possible.