By Maxwell Schnurer, Times Standard
Hip hop is commonly defined by the four elements (dancing, djing, graffiti writing, and emceeing), but it entails a whole host of other knowledge. Comic books, cinema, fashion, and of course location are crucial in understanding this cultural movement. Thinking about the geography of Humboldt Hip Hop can be a valuable way to consider this movement.
I rode my bike to The Works,
Stir Fry Willie a handful of his fellow Dirty Rats rep Fortuna, while I honor the fair city of
A few blocks away from the record store, I am dazzled by the art on the alley wall of the Accident Gallery, a crucial local performance/gallery space. It’s worth noting that the alleys of several local businesses have become dizzying optic-stimulating art spaces. One business contacted me with the tale that they’ve added large full-color art pieces to their outside wall largely to deter low-quality writing on their walls. The outside writers deserve kudos for sharing their visions with the citizenry and the idiot who has been writing on trees deserves 100% shame.
Among other cross currents that blow through the Accident Gallery have been the recent spate of slam poetry contests run by the feminist and verbally-savvy crew A Reason To Listen. After some cut-throat preliminaries, the Humboldt Slam Team is now final and prepared to represent the lost coast in the world of stage poetry performance. Carved out of the competition, the newly inaugurated Slam team consists of: Vanessa Pike, Brad Wilson, Mischief Mic, and Lorena Boswell. The Humboldt team will travel to the national championship in Madison Wisconsin in August.
Backwoods star Garth Culti-Vader had an accident recently with some injuries. His recovery period was spent crouched over a computer editing his first film. Titled: Chronic TV: Humboldt Hip Hop Volume 1, the movie shows Garth rocking a handful of live shows, a new song from Sub Sab emcee Elision, a video from producer emcee Myster DL and some high-speed, dank-inspired editing.
Accompanying Myster DL into the Universal Balance Productions Studios, I ran into Massagana vocalist and emcee Ishi Dube. Ishi has been performing and rocking hard for 2008 bringing conscious reggae and repping his location to audience at a moment’s notice.
Myster DL was in the studio to work on a couple of tunes, and it was rad to see producer/guitarist Piet “Demolition” Dalmolian lay down some guitar solos and tweak the pro tools. DL is a behind-the-scenes kind of musician, whose catalogue of tracks is rich with underground stars. With some time spent soaking up the sounds in
I cadged an invitation to see Dirty Rats GMG and Stir Fry Willie do some MPC damage in their Fortuna, Dirty Rats lair. Watching a beat evolve from vinyl to chopped loop under the talented fingers of GMG was a real honor. As I exited Stir Fry Willie laced me with some of the Dirty Rats back catalogue, including the 2004 album the Plague, and a copy of his ultra-rare first album Piss in the Crisper. Pass the verses or ride in hearses.
L.C.A., or Lower Class Alcoholics have been opening shows all over Humboldt, including for the recent Devin the Dude stop. They’ll be touring around
Local bass player and Opti-Pop emcee, J the Sarge has a new project with Freestyle Fellowship star Myka 9 called Magic Heart Genies – the debut video is out on the internet and the sound is quick and slippery – check it out and get the album when it drops this summer.
Subliminal Sabotage emcee MCP has released his long-anticipated solo album I’m in love with death. The release is worth the wait – featuring keyboards masterfully played by B Swizlo, contributions from many of the Subliminal Sabotage/Nucleus musicians carving out a a smooth plate for MCP’s whisky tortured dark vocals.
Humboldt Rocker Reckless Rex organized and hosted a B-Boy dance battle last month and dancers swarmed to fight for the thousand dollar top prize in a two-on-two breakdancing battle which was captured by global stars the Break Disciples -- RoxRite and Kid David. Claiming the victory in the popping battle was JHits who will be coming back through town to teach some workshops with Rex this weekend. Check the workshops June 12 at and June 15 at in the old creamery building in Arcata.
Respect the geography, and keep the music and culture moving forward ‘til next time.