It’s funny, good hip hop is something I always seem to find myself looking for more of. Like anything amazing in this world, the second you have some you gotta put more in your face. This is the quest. Beats you can feel in your seat. Lyrics that bring about thoughts of some sort of mad scientific genius work on a spoken level. Try and tell me you haven’t heard a song or saw your favorite Emcee pull of some superhero type shit on the mic. Don’t BS me, Wu Tang was the Super Friends of getting it done.
This all leads me to Billy’s for a show hosted by Grand Rapids own Rick Chyme. Having seen some of his solo work and Southpaw Players, I knew there was a very good chance of something good going down. It’s all objective though. One man’s Mos Def might be another’s Snow (remember Informer)? Still, I get into this joint and damn it’s packed tight. Complete madhouse right off the bat. I don’t even make it three feet as I am help up for a sec for a little meet and greet with my man Jumbo.
Introduced as someone who knows GR old school , I had to get in on this. Growing up in the local movement for the past 20 years, Jumbo has been on the front lines trying to blow it up. ” People don’t even know, we are bastards of dope hip hop.” I could just feel the energy and love for his town and it’s music. After that I began to see that same look at the bright shining faces in attendance. One might make the mistake of some drinking being the case, no it is completely adoration for these Emcee’s.
I’m starting to get it, Grand Rapids not only has a local scene, but the people doing the work to back it up. In Michigan as a whole things are blowing up and not just Eminem, it’s spreading. Back to my original goal of getting beverage in my life, I make my way through this salmon run of a crowd. Slowly getting there I notice something else I have always found amazing and beautiful. The music’s inability to be contained, the ritual of that nod. Banger tracks making the head roll back and forth. Without a doubt I know I am in the right place.
I grab myself a couple drinks( yeah, it’s called #fucklines) start to really check out whats going on. The air is becoming electric for sure. Rick Chyme is up on the stage laying down rhymes like not only is it his business, but you want to invest (your money). I settle down for the show with a friend of mine when I start to talk about the two headlines for the show. That’s when I meet Megan, a schoolmate of Jon Connor since like preschool. (will get back to that)
Back to the action, Chyme finishes up his set and the crowd digs it. The air is getting warm, the crowd tightens up like a fish in his first night in jail. Next to come on is Tekh Togo, another GR artist trying to put the eyes oof the world right here. Described as a throwback futurama, I didn’t really understand this statement till I caught him doing what he does. I like his style for sure, great delivery. I think what I took best from his performance was the way he worked at it. The man carried a face of someone doing work , but art. That kind of work. By the time he was done it went from warm to Vietnam in this place. Hot and wet. Yeah.
So back to Megan, 26 years old Flint born and raised. When she found out that I was here to cover the event and didn’t know about Jon Connor I though she might hit me. No, but her excitement in telling me about him was quite magniloquent. ” Jon always knew he was going to be a rapper, like back in the day he would rap to Mase.” When I asked Jon about it he laughed, “Yeah, that was me. My hat would be all cut down low over my eyes and I would rap to Mase.” You could tell right off that there were years of being a fan in her eyes. ” Jon was always so genuine, he is the same guy now as he was then.” Before I had to go run off she told this one last thing that I kept in mind while watching his set. “If you are in this room right now, consider yourself lucky. In about five seconds this guy is going to blow up.” Not to give away the ending, but yeah she is so right.
Jon Connor, been doing this from day one it seems. Flint native and part of Mateen Cleaves All Varsity Entertainment . Haven also spoke with Mateen about Jon Connor and Michigan as a whole he said, ” Michigan is it’s own spot you know?” “There is so much talent in this state, and with guys starting to get big, people are bringing everyone around them up too.” You can see it too, Detroit is always Detroit, they do work. But, now you are seeing Flint, kill it. Grand rapids, kills it. Equalizing the state out.
Here right now, Jon Connor is doing his thing. The people I was chatting with and my friends just become a memory. A distant one as Jon pulls us all into the flow he is weaving. It is so good too, after a 20+ bar freestyle (one of a few) I really catch myself just there grinning from ear to ear. THIS IS THE SHIT I LOVE, this is what good music can do to a man. This is one of those acts where it becomes difficult to make notes, as I am enjoying this too much to notice I am not doing work. So I’ll give you this. The man kills it, the crowd eats it up like they got the munchies with a third world pantry at home. See for yourself, CEO/Producer/Artist Jon Conner American Psycho Video .
Headlining the night is Willie The Kid. An ATL resident by way of Grand Rapids, you could say Willie The Kid was born into this life. Son of a DJ and brother to La The Darkman (signed with Wu Tang back in the day). “We never got in trouble for throwing footballs in the house, we got in trouble for scratching records, or playing a rap record and saying the cuss words.” Giving that kind of home upbringing, it’s not a surprise when he comes on like a man born to do this. “Hip-Hop is a beverage of choice for a thirsty people,” and I will tell you everyone looks parched in this joint.
It’s a little wild the distinction I am now noticing between Jon Connor and Willie The Kid. Where as Megan said that in about five seconds Jon will blow up, Willie The Kid comes off like a man who hit the step and is not stopping. On stage with full entourage, Willie The Kid fill the room beyond everyone on stage. Holding command and throwing down a mix of style that part Gun Ru and peppered with dirty south Willie The Kid just mercs the evening. Having lost myself again in the evening, I come back to it to realize the show is over and my note taking skills suck. Well, at least they do when confronted with hip hop of the finest caliber.
So all y’all mofo’s out there complaining that hip hop is dead, redundant or some other bullshit, open your eyes and ears. Start looking close to home or you might miss the spark that set’s this whole place on fire. Cause GR music is burning this shit down pookie. Fact.
Willie The Kid Twitter-http://twitter.com/#!/THEWILLIETHEKID
Jon Connor Webpage –http://www.jonconnoronline.com/
Tekh Togo Facebook-http://www.facebook.com/people/Tekh-Togo/1171540769
Rick Chyme Webpage-http://5iveit.com/tag/rick-chyme/