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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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A FAmily Reunion to Rebuild a Scene
Monday, June 27, 2011

Roc Doogie & deto-22 of Phenetiks

The Ant Farm Affiliates are Connecticut’s largest, and currently most prodigious, crew of emcees. Unfortunately, the crew had experienced some setbacks over the past year. Their annual Hip-Hop Summit, which they held at Westhill High School in Stamford, CT, and featured both performances and workshops for young people interested in the culture, had been cancelled. Cousin Larry’s, the event space where they’d held their monthly Enter The Cypher event for over six years, abruptly shuttered its doors without so much as a phone call to any member of the crew. The AFA, and Connecticut hip-hop in general, needed a shot in the arm, a reminder of its importance and its relevancy. This is why earlier this month AFA member Sketch Tha Cataclysm put together a show unlike any the state had seen before – a full family reunion that involved every member of the AFA. “Things just kept coming about that increased the relevance to me.”

The logistics of putting together this family reunion, which featured over a dozen artists, were fairly insane. Sketch notes he’d tried to make it happen a number of times before, but hit snags with not everyone being able to make it. “When I first came up with the idea of putting together the reunion, the general feeling was ‘well... I'll just take a shot and hope for the best,’” he explains. “Having folks getting incredibly enthused about it, and JK1 The Supernova flying up from Florida, these things were pleasant surprises.”

Taking place on Saturday, June 4th, at the Freight Street Gallery in Waterbury, CT, the AFA family reunion featured every member of the crew. According to The Protege the show “was good for morale overall. I needed to know that my friends were out there working hard and can still rock the house on any given night.” And rock the house they did. The show seamlessly moved from act to act, something that was a well-planned labor of love for Sketch, who notes “the scheduling of an evening like this is fairly difficult. In this situation you have to consider the wants and needs of each act, the flow of the evening to the audience, the opportunities to perform songs that would not get performed otherwise, room for surprises and errors, etc. All of these things needed to be worked out prior with a timed schedule that wouldn't allow for that many people performing to come off as an open mic night or some random hip-hop showcase.”

The main thing showcased at this event was the fact that Connecticut has vibrant, creative, skillful artists in its hip-hop scene. The Protege was extremely proud of everything that happened on the stage that night, saying “I think its a testament to all the material we have put out and all of our skills that we mastered as artists.”

Veterans of the scene, the AFA knows Connecticut hip-hop is a tricky thing. Sometimes it shines brightly, sometimes it hides for months, or years. This is why their family reunion should be thought of as more than just a great show, it should be thought of as a reminder to not give up on a scene even when it looks as though a scene has been given up on. The most important part of any building is the base, and if you can be one of those bricks those who come after you will be forever grateful for the foundation you created. As Sketch points out, “the more quality acts our music scene has performing, the easier it is for other quality acts to get audiences to take them seriously and go to shows.”

It all has to start somewhere, and in the case of Connecticut, and a lot of smaller, relatively unknown, hip-hop scenes, sometimes it has to restart somewhere, sometimes multiple times. The AFA Family Reunion was that restart for CT hip-hop. Now it must be built on.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:27 AM  
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