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.

The Heligoats Are Tonight!

This is a friendly reminder that you need to go to Vaudeville Mews tonight. Scroll down for my preview, or click here.

More info.

What’s Going On Tonight – Doomtree!

I am old and have a child and a real world job that requires me to wake up at 5 in the a.m. Plus, I got this new blog to take care of. You, very likely, don’t have all of those things. So, what’s stopping you from heading to the M-Shop tonight to see Doomtree? Nothing, probably. I’m sorry, that’s pretty combative for it being my first day. Just know that I’m grumpy that I’m going to miss this one, and I want to live vicariously through you.

Here’s the deal, you have these moments in life that you talk about for the rest of your life. A lot of those start with, “I wasn’t even going to go out last night, but…” So make tonight one of those nights and go see Doomtree.

More info Here

I’m not unrealistic. I know Ames can be a bit of a drive, even if the town is cool and the M Shop is awesome. So, go see somebody in Des Moines tonight. Cool shows at Gas Lamp and Vaudeville Mews, too. Or if you’re unlucky enough to read this somewhere other than Des Moines, go see somebody play music tonight.

The Heligoats At Vaudeville Mews – March 13

Chris Otepka (courtesy of The Heligoats Facebook Page)

The cool thing about being alive in 2012 is that we seemingly have access to pretty much anything we could want, right at our fingertips. So there really is very little excuse for people who bitch about not being able to find new music. Right now, I am listening to the new album Zoo by Ceremony. Who the fuck is Ceremony? I have no idea. But it was listed as a new album, so I am going to give it a shot. It is kind of loud and had some anger issues and so far I dig it, like, a whole bunch. And all it took was a mouse click.

Similar to that are the people who bitch about how a town the size of Des Moines doesn’t get cool acts. We get plenty of cool acts, you just have to be willing to put in a minor amount of effort. That minor amount of effort is what lead me to The Heligoats.

The Heligoats are the project of Chris Otepka, a DeKalb, IL native. They are a project much in the same way The Mountain Goats are John Darnielle’s project. Otepka plays shows with a band, and solo as The Heligoats, and they are both tremendous. Otepka has a kind of overt wit about him that just makes songs seem sillier than they ought to be, while at the same time writing and performing serious and intelligent melodies.

Back to my original point, bands like The Heligoats come to this town a lot (although, maybe not as good as The Heligoats, but you can see my point). What we seem to miss is that music at this point has gone way past the major record label business model and into an arena where someone with obscene talent can appear on a stage in front of 20 people and be just as good a show. Go to any of the venues’ websites or Facebook pages and they will usually list the bands who are playing, and a quick Google search can lead you to discover awesome new things. It was doing just that, that lead me to The Heligoats.

My point is this, you should go to The Heligoats and if you don’t you’re a lazy asshole.

More info is Here