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The Khyber (10/16/2009) [recap]

I love going out and realizing what I've been missing. I'm a homebody for a number of reasons, but when I heard that my boy Elucid was going to be performing in Philly, which isn't even 45 minutes from my spot (Darnell and I must've made the drive in about 30, 35 minutes it seems), I had no excuse to not be there, especially with heads like 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers, Has-Lo, Dumhi, Al Mighty, Curly Castro and more on the bill. But, oh yes, we'll get into all of that in this recap. Walk with me...

Like I said earlier, I don't go out that often. When I do, it has to either BE an event or FEEL like an event. For this one, it was a bit of both, but it turned into more of an event as the night went on. I knew a few things: I'd get to link up w/ Dom P, Zilla Rocca, Elucid and maybe meet the Dumhi fam. I've linked up with Public Axis previously (No News Is Good News, anyone?), so this link up was waaaaay past its due date, but whatever. We roll to the spot, mull around for a bit, and Dom P walks up. We kick our introductions, and he is like "did you meet Elucid?", who is posted up at the bar with Ali Boombaye (the genius who cooked up the "Automatic Writing" video). We kick it over a few drinks, I got introduced to the homey Zilla, and the venue was getting a nice lil' crowd going. And then, it happened.

I'd never been to a show like this in Philly, and had no idea what Big O was finna do as host. I had seen him throughout the night, usually double-fisting some malted beverages, and I knew he was hosting, but the comedy this dude just brings is too much to try and put into words. Being one of the heads of Beat Garden, O has a dope charm, a real love for Hip-Hop and all of that... but dude will snap on you in a fucking heartbeat. The soundman got it, Has-Lo got it for his tight braids and small frame... I don't think I got it, but I probably will next go 'round.

But anyways, onto the show...

Curly Castro, who got some of his first press on this here blog, rocked first, and I was truly impressed. I may not have known all of the tracks he was running through, but you could feel the shit he was spittin'. Dope performances, including the first (of many) appearances from Nico The Beast on "Armor". Great opening act.

One of the MCs who really impressed me was Has-Lo. Big O snapped on his size, but dude is larger than life when he gets into his tracks. One of the many highlights was his performance of "A Pimp Named Slickrap", as well as his Small Professor-produced banger which I can't remember the name of right now called "When The Last Leaf Falls" (big up @smallpro). That beat was so fierce, Small Pro had to jump on stage and enjoy himself:

My nigga also did some track called "The Commentary", which was truly awesome. Broke down a lot of society's ills in what seemed like one long verse. It was inspiring.

Up next was Al Mighty, one half of MAGr, and it was good to see dude performing. He attacked the stage and just went OFF! DistantStarr got on stage and they performed "Tokyo Raul", among a bunch of other gems past and present. I also loved how, even if he forgot a portion of the rhyme, instead of cuttin' the show, he just kept it going, freestyling until he either picked the verse back up or the track was done. Dude also kicked off a really heartfelt track about losing those close to you, which definitely allowed me to see his skill in a different light. Also showed me how close cats like Al and Nico really are. This is deeper than rap.

Next up was the captivating Elucid (with Haj from Dumhi on the decks). Elucid told me he was going to do a quick 6 song set, and it was built like one fresh trip. Dude's a monster on wax, and on the stage he commands that attention - whether its his imposing figure or the fluid he emits from his voice, his set was off the meter. He ran through cuts like "Automatic Writing", newer shit like "Whirldwind Through Cities" and "Take Charge" and a number of other sick track. It's been a few years since I've known Gutta, and I feel bad that I'm just now seeing him perform... but it was worth the wait. Face-melting material, indeed.

Up next was Dumhi, who were accompanied by Shamelessplug, FLUD and had a guest appearance from Reef The Lost Cauze. Yes, you read that correctly. I loved Dumhi's set - those cats came correct, and Shameless really impressed me the most. Again, I'm not as knowledgable about their material as I should be, but with Haj hitting me off w/ the Indian Summer EP, and realizing how often I've seen their name around, I'm doing my research, trust. Good crew of people, and a great, organic set.

Towards the end of Dumhi's set, I had to get some air, so I rapped with Al at the bar for a taste (hopefully the fruits of our convo will be shared soon), and when I got back, Zilla Rocca was in full 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers mode, with Curly Castro by his side:

As you should know, 5 O'Clock Shadowboxers = Zilla Rocca and Doug Martin, and their Slow Twilight album caused quite a stir this summer. I've gone back to it numerous times since I grabbed it, and it just has a dope combination of those somber vibes and classic Hip-Hop breaks and beats. Zilla ran through a grip of the tunes, including "High Noon", which I believe will be getting the video treatment sometime soon.

At one point in the set, Zilla called up Has, Elucid and Nico for a sick posse cut that will be featured on the forthcoming 5 O'Clock EP, Broken Clocks, entitled "No Resolution 2". Here are some flicks from this blinding track:

That shit was tough. After the 5 O'Clock set, the Rap Pack reunited and stormed through their classic material, as well as a few new joints (I believe). It was good to see the 5 MCs on stage, going for theirs, to a crowd who definitely knew what time it was. As the night came to a close, we got to see a load of freestyles, a sack full of laughs and a great night for Hip-Hop, from Philly or otherwise. Shouts to Dom P, Big O, the Rap Pack, Elucid, Has-Lo, Small Pro, Curly Castro and anyone I might have forgotten who helped put this night together. It started a fire within me (and others), and should only mean good things for the Beat Garden, Public Axis and RTD crews. Thank you, Philly.

All photo credits go to Liz Padova; check out her "Hip-Hop Shows In Philly" album on Facebook. There are also some pics and a review over on Phrequency, which I believe are from @livefromphilly.


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