Photo By Gary Miller
Rhymesayers ShowcaseEmo's, Wednesday, March 17
Assembling a squadron of artists that transcends its roots as strictly a Minneapolis phenomenon, Rhymesayers hit Emo's with all paddles in the water. After DeeJayBird warmed up the audience with a series of crowd-pleasers, the Opus gave a full demonstration of hip-hop as percussive overload. The Chicago duo of Mr. Echoes and the Isle of Weight manipulated their samplers into a cavalcade of instrumental nuance as selections from their album Breathing Lessons
(Mush) continuously fluctuated with the fluidity of an approaching rattlesnake. Their overwhelming avalanche of shifting rhythms was followed by the true school, boom-bap endeavors of Musab, a Minneapolis MC with no qualms about his intentions to party. Opening his set with the proclamation that "we're gonna get drunk, we're gonna get high, and we're gonna get laid," the charismatic vocalist utilized a brisk flow to match his diverse arsenal of beats. While Musab's addiction to bitch-and-ho speak at times belied the title of his album, Respect the Life
, the apparent contradictions fell on deaf ears as collective spirits were lifted. Representing the Chicano frame of mind, Los Nativos presented a Spanglish version of rap that attempts to "reconstruct the pathways to the pyramids." Citing "shell-toe moccasins" as they musically bridged the gaps between hip-hop, reggae, and cumbia, MCs Felipe Cuauhtli and Chilam Balam likened their take on Dia de los Muertos
as symbolic "revenge for murdered family and friends." Continuing the cultural onslaught, I Self Divine and Kool Akiem expressed why they are "nothing without our people," running through topics such as the drug war conspiracy and the adverse impact of glorified images of self-destruction. Drawing from their Rhymesayers debut, The Emperor and the Assassin
, the Micranots complemented their topical sojourns with a healthy dose of driving, bottom-heavy backing tracks. With momentum obviously building, Brother Ali became the first artist of the night to have large segments of the crowd reciting rhymes as he spit them. With his Shadows on the Sun
garnering praise from all angles in 2003, Ali brought down the house with a relentless, ever-burly rhyme style. Promising to "lay an ass-whoopin' on you that's one of a kind, playa," the Minneapolis MC not only made a definitive name for himself in Austin, he also raised the bar as the Emo's faithful anticipated later showings by Soul Position, Eyedea & Abilites, MF Doom, and Atmosphere.