Westword Music Showcase June 16, 2007 DC10 Better than: KS107.5’s Summer Jam (cheaper too!). This is real hip-hop.
DJ Bedz kicked off things at DC10 this past Saturday afternoon around 2 p.m. before a rather sparse crowd -- a stage manager, a sound guy and a couple of bartenders. Regardless, Bedz, nominated in the DJ Hip-Hop: Club/Turntablists category, was in good spirits though as he made his way around the venue setting out dozens of copies of his mixtapes for the fortunate music fans who arrived early. It’s too bad that folks missed his set which included some classic hip-hop joints from Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Souls of Mischief, and Ice T. Even better, Bedz was playing requests. How often do you get the official DJ for the Denver Nuggets and weekend party starter on KS107.5 to play your favorite tracks on request?
Bedz ended up splitting DJ Chonz’s alloted time with DJ Vajra, since Chonz, who wasn't able to make it -- he was reportedly was playing host to nationally known and championship DJ Rectangle. It was all good, though. Vajra ripped it up playing some underground hip-hop and offering some creative and original mixes. People who started trickling in at this point were impressed by Vajra’s excellent scratching and beat juggling techniques.
Future Jazz Project, nominated in the Funk/Soul category, was up next at 4 p.m. Only part of the band was on-hand, so FJP’s set consisted of straight-up beats and rhymes with Greg Harris getting busy on the vibes, while laying down the beats from his laptop. Some folks were disappointed, but the real hip-hop heads stuck around.
Distrakt took the stage next and turned heads immediately in his goggles and with the raccoon tail on his head. The accessories, as it turns out, were meant to be a nod to hip-hop’s founding father, Afrika Bambaata, who used to wear similar garb back in the day. Distrakt turned in an energetic set and gave away free drinks, CDs and books on the history of hip-hop. There was even a bit of pyrotechnics in effect with fire snapping from his fingers and smoke emitting from his microphone. “I’m smoking mikes!!” he yelled. Fans began to trickle out during a long segment in which he discussed hip-hop history and Kool Herc. Apparently, folks were more interested in hearing him spit than sitting through a lecture. Regardless, his set was solid.
The crowd thickened a bit more at 6 p.m. as Dent took the stage. A cast of local hip-hop luminaries dotted the crowd -- Proxy, P.A.A.S., producer Tune One, mixtape master Joe Thunder, DJ Phyre, DJ Musa, quintessential b-boy ambassador Marz and concert/party promoter Francois Baptiste. Dent, meanwhile, had an entourage of his own. DJ Stretch got down on the ones and twos, while brilliant R&B vocalist King Mississippi contributed to several tracks, Bumpy J traded rhymes with Dent and up-and-coming MCs Flawless and Fo-Chief. Dent himself wowed the crowd with old favorites such as “Sunshowers” some off-the-head freestyles. During his set, several young b-boys, proteges of Marz, danced in front of the stage. Overall, it made for an enjoyable and entertaining performance.
The Flobots, who were the day’s undeniable crowd favorite, packed DC10. Taking the stage a little after 7 p.m., the unit delivered an energetic, high powered performance that made a mostly solemn crowd throughout the day, jump and dance through the entire set. Dent even came back out for a couple of tracks. The crowd was so into the band, when their 45-minutes was up, they were yelling and screaming for one more song. But alas, there was still one more group to go.
Unfortunately, the sizable crowd who had come out for Flobots didn’t stay for The Pirate Signal, save for the few dozen die hard hip-hop heads – including members of the Flobots. Yonnas Abraham always gives an emotional, passionate performance and even though the crowd was sparse on this night, he gave it his all. He was backed on the decks by Cysko Rokwel, who is also nominated in the hip-hop DJ category. Rokwell has been filling in for DJ A-What quite a bit lately. After the DC10 performance, the pair headed straight to the Ogden Theatre to open for Naughty by Nature, and then hit the road for San Jose, California for a West Coast tour.
All in all, is was a good outing, even though some of the other nominees such as DJ Psycho, Maneline and 3Oh!3 weren’t included on the bill. Hopefully next year, everyone will be represented. -- Quibian Salazar-Moreno
Critic’s Notebook: Personal Bias: I listen to Bedz and Vajra mixtapes and have a Distrakt t-shirt. I chose Pirate Signal’s EP as the best of 2006, and Dent wants me to write his bio.
Random Detail: The hip-hop artists nominated doesn’t encompass the entire Colorado hip-hop scene. To get the lowdown, keep an eye on my blog: http://coloradohiphop.blogspot.com.