April 29, 2010
with Sick Sense & Skinwalker, Feel Good Patrol
Hip hop shows, as most people who have attended them in Utah will know, can be a mixed bag. The performance-oriented nature of hip hop creates an incredible burden for those on stage, while the crowd can act however it pleases. Usually, fans are there for the headlining act, and will not have heard of any of the openers. Without some people knowing some of your songs, getting on stage and spitting words out of your mouth at high rates for half an hour can be tough. With that quick primer, let’s compare the acts who recently took the stage at the Urban Lounge to show us what hip hop’s all about.
I’ve written before about MC Sick Sense and his producer Skinwalker, two thirds of the local group, 1st Class. These guys have been holding it down, doing some touring and playing their hearts out to people who may not have ever-heard of them. This Thursday evening was no exception. Sick Sense took the stage and started killing it to some great sample-oriented beats from Skinwalker. Their only obstacle was the relatively lethargic crowd, yours truly included. I love hip hop, but it’s hard to get a small crowd moving and dancing by yourself, and, well...it’s a little embarrassing alright? I wasn’t drunk enough for that yet. But I needn’t have worried. Sick Sense had an elegant solution: get off the stage and start rapping right in the faces of the people you want to get moving. This he did several times, and by the end of his set, the crowd on the dance floor had fleshed out and was ready for more. Check these guys out if you get a chance, they are clearly hard working, despite their apparent love for the reefer. “Driving Slow” is particular favorite of mine and Skinwalker’s soul-inspired beats are great for a warm summer night. I recommend picking up their record, The Future of Classic if you can find it.
Building upon the energy of the last duo, a full live band took the stage. I’d never seen the Feel Good Patrol before, but they’ve been around for a while and clearly have things under control. This six-member hip hop band is just full of great tricks. A lineup boasting a solid rhythm section of drummer, bassist, guitarist and an additional DJ creates solid backgrounds for their two vocalists. The music varied from straight forward boom-bap to a ballad or two and the occasional shredding guitar-solo, but mostly lived in the realm of funk and soul. One vocalist mostly sang while the other mostly rapped, but they did shift between, and definitely worked the crowd. They even threw in a random cover song here and there, but I won’t say which ones. It’s more fun if you go to see them and here them bust out one of your favorites from classic hip hop. These guys got the floor bumping in the Urban Lounge and had booties shaking all across the floor. I’d keep a look out for this talented group, especially the smaller a venue they play. I can imagine these guys in someone’s basement killing it for kids with keg cups. Let’s hope they do private parties.
Now for the main event. Like I said, at a hip hop show, this is the band that everybody knows. This is the band that will play songs that people can actually sing along with. This is the band who will have the best chance of getting their sound setup at the venue right. This is the band who will be touring veterans who know they have a job to do for you that night. Ugly Duckling is one of the best touring hip hop bands ever. Yeah, I said that. Go ahead, challenge me. How many hip hop acts do you know that still spend half their time involved in call and response tactics? How many throw the mics back and forth to each other across the stage? How many still clown and dance like it was 1985? In this writer’s opinion: not enough! MCs Dizzy Dustin and Andy Cat have stage chops that would give the Beastie Boys a run for their fat stacks of cash. And the best part is, they got one of the best DJ’s ever backing them up. Young Einstein, with his gold dookie rope and crate full of records is the only producer keeping it so fresh, that “there’s not a benadryl pill that will scratch the itch, for a scratch when my DJ gets up in the mix,” as Dizzy puts it. Two turntables and a cross fader along with the original records are all this guy needs to make some of the dopest loops you’ll ever shove through your headphones. The group’s record, Bang for the Buck was stacked so full of tracks that use the crowd, that it’s become such a staple of their live show—“Yudee!” and “Andy Vs. Dizzy” are perfect examples. In the space of their set, this band invited a local MC on stage (word to you, whoever you are man) to spit a sick verse over one of their most famous songs, “Shoot Your Shot,” and also brought a fly girl up on stage to dance with them during the classic, “Pick Up Lines,” off their Journey to Anywhere LP. All that while still packing huge loads of classic beat into our skulls. This paltry description isn’t doing justice to what this group can do—it really has to be seen. Let me put it this way: by the time they came on stage, I’d been awake for 18 hours, had to wake up to do it again in another seven, and really should have in been in bed. But I couldn’t stop dancing and getting into the antics of these three hip hop professionals. Keep it up guys.