[MetroActive Music]

[ Music Index | Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] Word of Mouth Round II

DJs and MCs scratched and flowed at big P-ville hip-hop concert

By David Espinoza

IT'S BEEN OVER a year since the super hip-hop package Word of Mouth tour hit Santa Cruz, and a lot has happened since. Headliners Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples both released excellent major-label debut albums; J5 suffered a tour bus accident that put them out of commission for a month. Friday night (Nov. 3), four of the underground's most exciting acts returned to a sold-out show at Palookaville.

Taking the stage first, the "world-famous" Beat Junkies served up an earful of turntablism so hot it singed you if you got too close. It's been a while since DJs Shortkut, Babu and Rhettmatic have all appeared together on Palookaville's stage--and judging by the crowd's reaction, they had been sorely missed. No visuals or gimmicks were needed as the Beat Junkies held the audience's attention with tight scratching skills that flowed endlessly. Even while the trio has yet to capture its sound adequately in the studio, live they are stellar. It must be that the crew has telekinetic superhuman powers. How else can one explain its uncanny ability to mix hard-hitting hip-hop rhythms without missing a beat or clashing with each other?

Following the Beat Junkies' set was the one and only MC Supernatural. Of all the acts of the night, Supernatural has seen the biggest jump in audience appreciation. When the stocky dread-headed MC first played SC over a year ago, very few people knew his name. All of that changed in a matter of minutes. This time around, everyone crowded in up close, knowing they were about to witness a bona-fide Einstein of impromptu rhyming and crowd-pleasing. Indeed, Supernatural met all expectations, taking anything the audience handed him (from a crutch to Zig-Zag papers) and weaving it into a rhyme. Like many of the acts of the night, Supernatural shared a disdain for commercialized hip-hop, offering, like a less-pious KRS-One, "Everyone's a gangsta, pimp or sexual, but what happened to the young black intellectual?" In one shining moment, Supernatural asked the audience to flick on their lighters and hold them up, describing how the scene was like a birthday cake and then blowing out all the "candles" in unison. Some might dismiss Supernatural's style of rhyming as novelty rap (much like Eminem's), but he is nothing of the sort. His impersonations of other MCs like Wu-Tang's Old Dirty Bastard and Busta Rhymes are more a celebration of hip-hop's different flavors than tokenism.

By the time Dilated Peoples got on stage, the crowd's energy was overflowing--which might explain MC Evidence darting around and crashing into things. This being the trio's second round in P-ville this year, they took a few songs to warm up before letting loose their best tracks, like "No Retreat," "Ear Drums Pop" and "Guaranteed." Unlike close pals Jurassic 5, who play what can be described as "feel-good" hip-hop, Dilated Peoples are more in your face, though it's anything but gangsta rap. Backed by DJ Babu's thick beats, MC's Evidence and Iriscience present themselves as virtuosos in skilled rhyming, with lyrics like "I never got redemption from an honorable mention, so my lyrics hug the beat with the tightest suspension." It's too bad they didn't get to play more of the material on this year's The Platform album, like "Service" and "Right On'--maybe next time.

Halloween Aftermath With Wishcraft

It must be hard not to want to be a rock star with a name like Brian Travis. Isn't he that guy, you know, who was, like, in that band? The self-described "poetic terrorist" and his band Wishcraft will be playing possibly their last gig of the year at the Poet and the Patriot on Thursday (Nov. 9) before taking a break to write new material. If you like folk-rock and enjoy a good pint now and then, this will no doubt be a good night to catch both together.

[ Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

From the November 8-15, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.