Every year at the Westword Music Showcase, we enlist our army of Backbeat wordsmiths to host various stages. In addition to their emcee duties, we ask them to pull double duty by submitting a travelogue of their individual stage. Antonio Valenzuela hosted at Roostercat Coffee House this past Saturday. Keep reading for some of the highlights from that stage.
The Roostercat Coffee House filled with the warm smell of waffle sandwiches while some of Colorado's most talented MCs and producers fed the crowd warm morsels of musical goodness on coffee shop's narrow side patio, which served as a stage area. Qbala's set was a good fit for the opening act; the grace and humility with which she greeted early fans was followed by sharp, comfortable rhyme patterns. Her nonchalant, friendly, yet tough rhyme style was evident in lines like "If I had a dick, you could suck it."
KooQua (pronounced Koo-Qway) warned would-be detractors that thinking Colorado is sweet could get you "Crushed." Her delivery was rapid-fire but didn't lose potency as she landed punchline after interesting punchline, such as "Dropping like Grandma's titties" and "Momma didn't raise me to be broke, and Daddy didn't raise me to be fake." Assisted by Ladi Lo-key, she finished up the set by playing with the crowd, "Fuck Lo-key, nah, fuck KooQua."
Big J Beats wowed the crowd next with his MPC and cool demeanor. Big J pounded the MPC with soul samples over some Top 40 a cappellas, noting, "All of these songs are my original remixes." Ending his set with the crowd joining him to sing Bel Biv DeVoe's "Poison," Big J threw a couple CDs out, then excited the crowd for the last time with the Numark Orbit, a wireless handheld MIDI controller, swinging down it to cut out the beat.
Kid Hum, another talented producer/DJ, hit the stage next with some funky remixes. After rocking the crowd with some jazzy piano riffs and sample chops, he went into a sick remix of Junior Mafia's "Player Anthem" along with live-sounding drum samples and some sped-up Biggie samples.
Cavem Moetavation showed up in style as always, rocking a classic-looking boombox. Assisted by Ill 7, he went into the knowledge-based hip-hop he's become known for. Performing songs from his Teacher's Lounge album and tunes like "Home Cooking," Cavem made sure to inform the crowd about Monsanto and the need for people to grow their own food and support the community.
Anxious won praise from the crowd with his fast-paced enunciation, which is always a treat to hear. Although his set was a bit shorter than expected, Anxious was a true performer, spitting with no background vocals or assistance, rapping with his usual fast rhythm and basketball references like, "cutting through the lane like Kobe Bryant."
Promoting his new album, Kool-Aid, Extra Kool took the stage noting, "I rocked my first showcase in 2008 with Mane Rok." Although Extra Kool had some hard stances on several things in his rhymes, like hating on Auto-Tune and Juggalos, his rhymes, he also covered a range of other topics, from his upbringing to his views on the world, which were very interesting.
Bianka Mikahn showed the most poise of the day, as her set was mired in audio difficulties. First she entertained the crowd with an almost five-minute freestyle that never lost its muster, engaging the crowd like a true performer, and then, when one of her songs cut out, she continued to rap while her DJ beatboxed the rest of the song. Determined not to let the problems stop her, addressing the half a dozen photographers in front of her and the almost-full crowd, she said, "Obviously, I'm a fucking gangster, and I don't rap over my tracks. I know better."
Turner Jackson, who opened with "Welcome to the D.O.P.E. Game," challenged the crowd right off the bat: "Say it with as much veracity as I do," he said, as he proceeded to give an electric performance for a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. Turner was his jovial self, a guy whose smile and energy was contagious as he rapped about the RTD bus -- "It's cheaper than a tank of gas" -- and his love story about bad credit: "Nobody gonna love you if got bad credit." More than just rapping, Jackson was moving, shaking and dancing to each song with high energy. He stopped the crowd to acknowledge a track with his late friend Marcus Arrilius, "Out Chea," and he let the crowd rock Marcus's part. It made for a moving experience.
2MX2 was the highlight of the day: With a live drum set, guitar and DJ R Squared, they put on an exceptional set. Jumping out the gate with a hard-core rendition of their song, "The Beast Is Out," the crew drew a thick crowd. Joined by Spellbinder and Spoke In Wordz, 2MX2 rocked a cumbia-style joint that excited the crowd before going into "Por Aqui, Por Alla" and then "Si, Se Puede," a track that features a collab with NY's Rebel Diaz. The group definitely upped the energy for the day with its live instrumentation and energy.
Not to be outdone, the Diamond Boiz saved plenty of energy for the final set of the day. The trio started and ended its set rapping over Kanye's "Diamonds Are Forever." After announcing that Dialekt now goes by J-Class, they rocked a song called "I'm Good," rejecting the knowledge of people who have not achieved anything significant in their lives. It was the highlight of the set. The Boiz kept the crowd around with their energy and precise lyrical presence, as all three took turns rocking solo verses over Kanye's diamond beat.
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