Toki Wright – Tonight at Vaudeville Mews

I still know people who don’t listen to hip-hop. It kind of drives me insane that someone would ignore a genre so full of amazingly talented and thought provoking artists just because it doesn’t feature loud guitars or a twangy accent. Or even worse they do listen to hip hop, but just the trash that is pushed down our throats by the corporate entities who want to tell us what we like. I feel like I am screaming to myself when I hear actual honest to God critics that I respect and like tell me how good Drake, Minaj and Lil Wayne are. With hip-hop, it is the one genre where I know specifically what I want to listen to and what I want to hear. I feel like, I’ve talked about this a lot whenever I speak of rap, but I dunno, I kind of feel like I should repeat it for some reason.

It isn’t just about flow or swagger (though that helps, obviously), it is about thoughts. Hip-hop unfortunately, can be a very selfish genre of music. Lots of people who want the fame and the attention and the money, and since that’s all they desire, that’s all they bother to talk about. Quite frankly, I don’t care how many cars you own or how many people you roll into a club with, and that kind of goes for everyone, not just emcees. But I sort of feel like the hip-hop I listen to almost has to be truly personal and social conscious because so much of it is materialistic and immature.

Huh, it’s funny. The more I analyze my statements, the more I realize that maybe hip-hop is an artistic genre just like any other. Be smart. Be conscience. Do things unlike everyone else. Makes sense to me.

That is why I love Rhymesayers Entertainment out of Minneapolis. It is probably the most identifiable record label when it comes to fairly underground, but also intelligent, caring and thought provoking artists in the world. Home to such luminaries as Atmosphere, Brother Ali, POS, Grieves and Budo, I Self Devine, MF DOOM and DJ Abilities, Rhymesayers seems to put out more talent of just about any record label, regardless of genre.

One more name to add to that list is Toki Wright. Maybe best known as Brother Ali’s hypeman, he is also a very accomplished emcee in his own right, and listening to his track “Next Big Thing”, you can tell he has the tools and desire to be so much more than just a hypeman. Beyond his talent, it is his story that I find most interesting. Raised in a Buddhist house, which seems very unique to me as far as emcees go, Wright has used his experiences to truly benefit others. He is one of Minneapolis’s most active community activists and recognized faces, not just for his music but for who he is as a person. His thoughts and knowledge truly go beyond the get money nature of a lot of hip-hop.

This show also features Des Moines’s most gifted hip hop outfit, Maxilla Blue. Their new album was just released a couple of weeks ago, so do yourselves a favor and grab a copy of that. Tonight at Vaudeville Mews. 530pm and all ages. More info here.

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