The Rundown #3
Posted on 26 December 2016
Last night, I saw someone’s viral tweet about the period of the year we’ve just entered — the time between Christmas and New Year’s during which “no one knows what day it is, who they are, or what they’re supposed to be doing.” The popularity of that tweet spoke to just how prevailing of a notion it is. Some of us have just said goodbye to friends or family, others are just embarking on a few days with them; some jobs are back in full swing, others are out for another week or more; some businesses are still observing a quiet holiday break, others have their doors flung wide open. It’s a time of year when the only sure-fire route to disappointment is to have specific expectations. Everything is in flux and there are absolutely no rules.
There are just two shows on our Rundown this week, both of them worthwhile for very different reasons. While the first is a Chapel Hill homecoming concert in more ways than one, the second is a taste of Asheville’s battle rap scene making an appearance in Raleigh.
You might not be sure what day it is right now (it’s Tuesday, for what it’s worth) or what you’re supposed to accomplish this week, but there are at least two dope hip-hop shows to go to if you’re willing to do a certain degree of planning.
TONIGHT, 12/27 — Well$, Part Time Cooks
The Nightlight, Chapel Hill
What is a rapper’s “hometown” anyway? Most people agree that this is where the artist grew up and came of age. These are the simple origins we’ve grown up learning: Nas — Queens. Ice-T — L.A. Outkast—Atlanta. But what about their current home base? What does it mean when we call Kanye West, who lives mostly in L.A. and New York, a Chicago rapper? Or—more regionally— King Mez, who lives in L.A., a Raleigh rapper? Well$ has walked this line ever since his name started cropping up on national blogs a couple years ago. While he grew up and started rapping in Charlotte, there is no doubt that he has come into his own in Chapel Hill and the greater Triangle. He reps Charlotte in his music and videos (to be fair, repping Chapel Hill isn’t very sexy) but day-to-day, he calls Chapel Hill home. Whether he’s simply making the most of his unique background or conning two cities into both feeling like his one and only, that’s a matter of perspective, and there are no doubt people who fall into both camps. Tonight he plays the first show in his backyard in a while, but it won’t be long before he does it again: on January 14th and 15th, he opens back-to-back Cat’s Cradle shows for Waka Flocka Flame.
It’s a hometown show in another sense for Saul Goode, a Chapel Hill native who makes up one-half of the group Part Time Cooks. PTC brought Well$ out to perform with them in South Korea earlier this year, something that definitely turned heads in the local hip-hop scene. Now Well$ links back up with them in Chapel Hill, but he’s not exactly playing host. Saul’s roots in the area run deep, having gone to college not too far away at UNC-Greensboro, and going to high school at Chapel Hill High before that.
Thursday, 12/29 — Shame vs. Samson, et al.
It’s easy to get caught up in the echo chamber of the regular artists and venues in the Triangle area, and in doing so, fail to notice the huge strides that the hip-hop scene has taken in Asheville. This week, we don’t even have to look westward to acknowledge Asheville, as its scene is making inroads into Raleigh in the form of AVL Battlegrounds 5 at Neptune’s. Local hip-hop is a niche culture, and battle rap remains a niche culture within that niche culture. Even for regular hip-hop listeners, the last battle most of them saw involved two guys named B-Rabbit and Papa Doc. And while battle rap leagues exist all over, the quality is spotty at best, so it can be hard to engage (most people can find something better to do than watch two people who aren’t clever shout “pussy” and “fag” back and forth at each other).
If Battlegrounds 4 is any testament to what will take place on Thursday, AVL Battlegrounds 5 will have no such quality issue. Audience members should come expecting to see sharp, off-the-cuff diss lines, and an encouraging union between two up-and-coming hip-hop scenes. Free The Optimus will perform as well.