Monday, August 6, 2012

Decrease Your Species Tour – Beat Coffeehouse – Minneapolis, MN

Having scored a bachelor’s degree in music performance, I can say honestly that like a lot of different music. People sometimes follow that up with “except rap” or “except country”. I have no caveats. I’m all in. When I heard the Decrease Your Species tour was headed to town, I made sure I was there. I’ve seen a bunch of metal and hardcore shows at the Beat Coffeehouse, but never a rap show. Not intending to sound racist at all, but I had no idea the Twin Cities had any sort of underground white-guy rap scene. But it DOES. It isn’t the following that Atmosphere has or anything, but it’s there (and it’s YOUNG). I honestly teared up a little bit during the show when I realized I really missed my recently deceased friend ThrowerOfBolts – who was one of the hidden gems of white-guy rap back where I’m from. I’m not an expert on the genre or anything, but I’ll give it a go.

First up (at least when I showed up – I may have missed the first group), Milky Way from Milwaukee. Great, super-solid content and super-fast delivery. The kid has a lot to say and it’s bustin to come out of him. He was even better than the last time I saw him at a house show in Davenport, IA. Good mix of multi-rhythm rhymes and tempo changes.

Next up, Codependents from Missoula, Montana. These kids are a little green, but still did a great job. They didn't mix up the rhythms much and kept it the same speed and pace, but were still likeable. I’m not sure about hard times in Montana, but if there are any, I hope they can channel it into some darker messages. I’ve always had issues with the “woke up one morning”-style of lyrics. Again, just me. These guys are right on the cusp of solid hip hop, so I hope they don’t give up. I also don't know how they didn’t end up in a mess, with four mic cords circling and circling the stage. Kudos to their ninja cord-untangling skillz.

Third up, Errol Hemm out of Chicago. I’m slightly biased having known this guy for years back in my home town. I had the honor of playing guitar for one of his metal bands and I respect his talents as a writer and frontman. He’s so much better than his earlier stuff lets on – he’s matured, having spent some time in Chicago and some rough situations, and he draws in the crowd (small as it was) with lots of volume, passion, and crowd interaction (read: comedic one-liner shots at his friends). I love this kid and it does me proud to see him taking life and music almost-seriously while spittin and rhymin on the stage to kids barely old enough to vote.

Finally, MC Nobody Cares out of New Hampshire. This guy probably gets told he looks like Steve-O a lot, but he was really quite good on stage. I didn’t know what to expect. I heard him talking metal outside on the sidewalk a bit, but his rap chops are waaaay solid. Good mix of fast raps and sung parts without being corny. He likes to keep it dark and doesn't “believe in that happy music therapy shit”, though he’s quite humorous on stage. He’s got really good timing and had some good crowd interaction. None of his stuff sounds the same (all the songs sounds identifiably different), and his style is unique even amongst the other guys he’s touring with.

One of the best parts of the night was going outside the coffeehouse between acts – the audience was out there freestyle rapping. If you were just walking past, it might have sounded like they were cracking wise or making fun, but these kids actually DO this stuff regularly and for fun. Generally, one or two of the kids would beatbox and the spotlight would get passed around the circle as one after another kid rapped it out for a minute or two. It wasn’t all good, obviously, but you have to start somewhere. Timing and quick thinking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but you got to stay in there and practice. It was especially good when one of the touring guys would walk past, bringing in equipment from the vans or carrying merch, and they’d drop in a few lines of scary-solid freestyle and then walk away. I think Errol Hemm handed out an ass-whoopin, vocal-style, right before he started his set. I told you the guy is good.

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