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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Style Factory 7 @ The Knitting Factory
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

There were two very important, and somewhat obvious, lessons learned from this month’s installment of the Style Factory series of shows. The first lesson is that having two concerts that revolve around the same genre of music, in this case underground Hip-Hop, at the same place, at the same time, does not do wonders for the smaller show’s ticket sales. The second is that no matter how many people are in the crowd acts that know how to write a good hook will always get that crowd motivated.

Style Factory is always held the second Saturday of every month at the Old Office at The Knitting Factory in NYC. Unfortunately on September 9th The Knitting Factory’s main stage also held a show with Glue, Solillaquists Of Sound and X:144 & SPS. X:144 & SPS stopped by to say hey, but it was obvious which show was going to get the bulk of the people, especially considering one had to navigate down two flights of stairs to get to Style Factory while you could simply walk right into the other show. Despite this handicap Style Factory’s crowd slowly migrated downstairs and by midnight there was a decent, if not overwhelming, crowd. The good news was that each and every person in the crowd was there for the love of Hip-Hop so the support for all the acts was tremendous.

Hooks and choruses seemed to be the theme this month as Undakova, Phonetik and Mindspray all chose hook heavy sets that had the crowd chanting their lyrics by the end of each song. The act of writing a catchy chorus is probably one of the hardest aspects of songwriting, so to find so many acts that knew how to do it, and do it well, was quite the accomplishment. The use of these catchy hooks kept the crowd motivated and moving. Quality hooks have always made for better songs, though. Think about any popular song ever, what’s the first thing that jumps out at you? The hook!

Mindspray’s set started strong with some old favorites, such as “Burn The Pages” and “La Muerte Petit,” but then the set got an added surprise in the form of Cazy E’s latest effort “I Don’t Want To Be Alone.” “I Don’t Want To Be Alone” is a fantastic R&B song that really only needs sixteen bars by another Mindspray member or two to be worthy of being the lead single for the group. The song is as radio ready as I’ve ever heard from an artist given the “underground” tag. I’ve been told this song is intended to be for one of Crazy E’s side projects but the group would be wise to grab it for the next Mindspray album. In fact, with as many side projects as the group has, if I were Mindspray I would simply grab the best songs from the side projects, throw in a handful of group tracks, like the crowd favorite “Smoke A Joint,” and one of my personal favorites “Problem With Authority,” and create an undeniably incredible album that would have absolutely no filler on it at all.

The show slowed down a bit when Ramadan hit the stage. Not only was he saddled with being a solo artist going on after two groups, which is never a good look for an artist being that one man can never replicate the energy of three, or in the case of Mindspray, nine, but his style didn’t lend itself to an extended set. Fifteen minutes of Ramadan would have been good, 25 was way too much. His style was interesting and there was no denying he had skills, but all his songs were so similar that the set seemed to drag no matter how intense he got.

Following Ramadan was the Whose Rhyme Is It Anyway? freestyle competition. A-Class came all the way from Maryland to defend his championship but it turned out to be a long road trip for nothing as Presence and Syanide would steal the show. Syanide would get the win, though for this writer’s money Presence should have walked away with the title, even if he was dressed like Cliff Huxtable. Props to Syanide, though, for being able to handle my topic of “scorpions in a Jetta” when I was asked what the next MC should rhyme about. The highlight of the competition came during what I am dubbing the “DJ Halo is an asshole” round of the game. For this round Halo threw on a classical music piece and a heavy metal record and switched between the two in an attempt to mess up the MC’s flow. This was hilarious to watch and should be a regular segment of the competition.

Rather than simply ending the show after crowning Syanide the new Whose Rhyme champion Dyalekt and EuphAmism decided to make it a true underground Hip-Hop event and opened the mic to the many MC’s in the crowd. Among those who hit the stage were Diadem of the Connecticut rap duo Hushh and NY’s own Hip-Hop Renaissance Man, Conscious.

Word on the street is Style Factory 8 is going to be the event of the year. Of course, it is being held on October 14th, the night before my birthday, so I have added incentive to enjoy myself.

For pics from Style Factory 7 please visit: Imagestation – Style Factory 7
posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:42 AM  
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