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Style Factory 5 @ The Knitting Factory
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

(Propaganda and the Mindspray crew rip it on stage)

“Inf! Inf! Inf! Inf!” The crowd was rabid after four official rounds and one overtime round of the Whose Rhyme Is It Anyway freestyle competition and after a three month reign Bisc1 had been dethroned. The competition was much bigger this time around, featuring six MC’s rather than the usual four, and the freestyle games ranged from the moderately difficult, such as picking three topics out of a hat and working them into one’s freestyle, to the completely insane, which is the only way to describe the game where the MC’s had to make their flows match DJ Judah’s scratching four different times all while staying on a topic that was shouted out by the crowd. While the headline of the show billed the evening as a New Orleans Hip-Hop Reunion, it was clear this was the month that the Whose Rhyme Is It Anyway freestyle competition came to full maturity.

After months of very good games performed by talented MC’s, July saw new levels of freestyle hit the stage and just about everyone held their own. It’s impossible to blame any MC for slipping up during this competition because I don’t think any of them had endured the kind of rigorous testing of their skills that EuphAmism and Dyalekt ran them through as their drill sergeants, er, hosts for the night. The overall feeling by EuphAmism and Dyalekt is that battles have become boring and cliché and oftentimes don’t even test an MC’s skills, which is why they created this aspect of their show. Personally, I feel the competition has finally reached the point where it’s DVD-worthy if they ever decide to put out a best of Style Factory compilation.

The individual acts for the show ranged from the great (Mindspray) to the misplaced (Alixa & Naima), with everything in-between. As guests arrived they were treated to the cutting and scratching of DJ Halo, who seems to have locked down the opening DJ slot for the Style Factory shows. The great thing about Halo is that you never know what you’re going to get when he’s on the turntables. He can throw Hip-Hop at you all day but then all of a sudden he’ll loop a Pantera break, or throw on a clip from a famous speech or comedy act. It’s all good to be hanging out and socializing during his set, but if you take a second to pay attention to what Halo’s doing up there you’ll be extremely impressed.

Tranquill followed Halo as the first MC to hit the stage and he gave fans what they’ve come to expect from Style Factory shows, dope Hip-Hop, but immediately following him were Alixa & Naima, a female duo that failed to move me. I’ve been assured that the two women can rhyme, they just chose not to on this particular night, but I have to wonder what would motivate that kind of a move, to not rhyme while on stage for a Hip-Hop show. Alixa & Naima hit the stage with the full intent of doing spoken word and opened with a line that reminded me of when Lance Storm was playing a heel in WCW, they asked the crowd to be quiet, even pointing out the people at the bar who were talking and asking them to be quiet, as well. All I could think of was Storm coming to the ring and saying “if I could be serious for a minute” and hearing an entire arena boo him. While the crowd didn’t boo Alixa and Naima the reaction to their request was pretty much ignored by half the bar, even when they launched into their first spoke word piece, which was done in stereotypical fashion.

Thankfully the New Orleans MC’s brought the crowd back to life as both Bird from Raw Poetix and Don Libido the 9th Ward Avenger brought some energy back to the stage. Both of these artists are featured prominently on the new compilation CD The Restless Natives – A Tribute To The Victims Of Hurricane Katrina. The irony of ironies for me was that I had received that album in the mail earlier in the week, listened to it, dug it, and didn’t even think to put two and two together, the New Orleans tribute and the New Orleans Hip-Hop reunion, until I was telling Dyalekt how great the album is and he asked me if any of the artists who’d be performing at the show were on the CD. I guess when one listens to 14 CD’s in two days putting two and two together can be a rigorous task.

The truly beautiful moment of the night actually came before any fans were in the audience. The embrace Bird and Don Libido gave each other when they met up after arriving was that of two long lost relatives finally reunited. During that hug EuphAmism motioned towards to the two of them and said that was the whole intention of the night.

After crowning a new Whose Rhyme Is It Anyway champion Mindspray closed out the show with a 20 minute set of entirely new material. The crowd was given an early preview of the new Brokendomer album Do You Copy?, which is far and away the duo’s best work yet, and the upcoming Leftist / C.O.N.C.E.P.T. CD, which will hopefully be in my hands soon. As with every Mindspray show each member was instantly recognizable. There are no attempts to outfit everyone in Mindspray in the same garb. The Mindspray crew are all unique individuals and they express that with both their rhymes styles and their clothing. On this particular night many people thought Dyalekt was Serious Black, an alter-ego of his, as he hit the stage clad in a black Dashiki and black kufi.

As usual it was easy to have a good time at Style Factory. Right now they pack the Old Office (I won’t call it the basement after hearing the bartender bemoan the fact that people call it that) at the Knitting Factory and although I’m sure they’d rather have a main stage to pack there’s something oddly appropriate in having the show downstairs, and not just because some might label these acts underground Hip-Hop. No, this has to do more with the show being like a buried treasure. It’s great, it’s there, it’s just up to the people to find it.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:57 AM  
  • At 9:10 AM, Blogger giuseppe miele said…

    hi adam!
    this is the man of the year for you.. you got artist, you got singers, now you have GiuseppeMiele, so popular in northern italy that you can't imagine..tell me on my blog if you can make an article on me and ill send you pics, right? this is a good day for you man!


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