THE RED MENACE AND THE DISSIDENT CHORDS with NOTES TO SELF , THEOLOGY 3 , L-MURDA , DJs SERIOUS and A-MONEY and host PUBLIC THE BEATNIK at Revival, September 15. Tickets: $5. Attendance: 75. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The best MC by a landslide at a night of political/true-school hiphop at Revival last Thursday was Theology 3 . He charismatically wove through cuts, some off DJ Serious 's latest knocker, Cold Tea, his vocal tones and those illmatic beats booming from the venue's near-perfect sound system. Moving from stage left to right, looking smooth in a white Kangol, Theo Steryannis laid down those flows with a carefree smile. Despite a meagre audience (maybe 30 or so were milling about), he rocked nobly, maintaining his political edge while keeping things light.
But not as light as the time-killing stylings of Public the Beatnik , the night's host. Maybe Public was getting on the nerves of rising local rappers Notes to Self , who also appear on the DJ Serious disc. The trio hit the stage abruptly, cutting off the Beatnik. All smiles, though.
Notes to Self illustrate hiphop's latest crisis: these days anyone can do it. The underground side of the genre is starting to lose its mystery now that three guys who look like computer technicians on their day off can cold-rock a party. Which they, did, more or less but in a hokey-pokey kind of way. It was like watching your brother and his friends in the basement goofily performing the rap routine they came up with while stoned.
Maybe we can blame this casual vibe on the low turnout. Still, it's usually not advisable to freestyle at your shows. "Ever since the movie 8 Mile, people don't ask me do I rhyme they ask me if I freestyle!" was one exemplary line I caught.
The audience had ballooned to about 65 by the time gangly headliner the Red Menace came on. He'd been there all night, and now, wearing his red T-shirt with the yellow star and Fidel Castro cap, Liam Barrington-Bush was flanked by a DJ, guitarist and keyboardist, together known as the Dissident Chords , to kick his quasi-communist flows.
He railed against "all the fence-sitters," chastizing them to "think of Nazi Germany next time you refuse to take a stand!" Hmm.
He flexed on "the grind" of hiphop and did an impassioned track about revolution, with its Frederic Rzewski-borrowed hook, "The people united will never be defeated!"
While the beats were fun and his spirit was strong, I left with little impression of what I should be fighting for.