This is an appeal to all the “fans” of The Way Live Should Be who liked us before we (Kim Morrison) started writing about rap a lot. I want to explain to you why you should come to Rap Night at the Big Easy, if you haven’t before. First, though, I am going to explain to you WHY I am going to be the one writing this appeal.
- I am completely naive on the subject.
- I may have some understanding of the difference between the terms “hip hop”, “rap”, and “emcee”, but it’s still kinda shaky, so I don’t have the confidence to say them out loud.
- I grew up on Kiss and Collective Soul.
- My top ten favorite bands (which include The Talking Heads, Morphine, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Buckethead) do not include ANY “raphiphopemcees” .
To make it Clear, I am writing this piece with the Clear disclaimer that I Know Nothing! So, how can knowing nothing make me well equipped to write about something? The point I am going to try to make to You, the jam band lover, metal head, festival scene connoisseur, dub step raver, etc… is that you should really give the Portland, ME rap scene a chance. I have always been a hefty consumer of instrumental music; especially the kind you can go see live and there are musicians playing instruments right in front of you. (I do not mean to insinuate that hip hop cannot also be instrumental, of course it can!). I have always LOVED to dance, I mean really rock out, like people do at dub step shows or whatever. I have always told my hip-hop loving friends that I just couldn’t find anything in that genre that lit my brain up like Phish, or Primus, or Pretty Lights.
Well, I have now. I have only been to 2.5 rap shows at the Big Easy and I saw stuff I really didn’t enjoy. BUT. I also saw stuff I really, really appreciated. As far as I know, there is almost always more than one artist at each rap night and they always end the night with open mic. So every time you check out Rap Night at the Big Easy you are guaranteed exposure to more than one style, artist, and/or sound. People come from all over the Northeast (Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, etc) to play at Rap Night and other Big Easy and Portland, ME hip hop shows. Many of them are super intelligent, enlightening, and skilled at what they do. I have absolutely NO knowledge of the culture, the history, or the technique of what these people are doing and yet I have found something to love every time. I even danced!
This is a tough article to write, because I don’t have the vocabulary. But I want to try to convey to you part of what has attracted Kim, and now me, to this scene. Kim has been writing all these fantastic, thoughtful pieces on hip hop artists from Maine and New Hampshire and they are often full of constructive commentary on the scene as well. There is a strong sense of solidarity, a “from the ground up” phenomenon, that is occurring in the Portland, ME hip-hop world. It is something Kim and I both starve to see in all genres of local music in our area, but usually find lacking. It appears that the local emcees and rappers and hip-hoppers have been doing it fairly well, and for quite some time. Which is not to say there aren’t “problems”; problems sustaining whatever it is that is happening, problems with the media through which the word gets out, but at least they are mutually supportive and TRYING… trying to maintain a real life community. Go to rap night… if you talk with people you will feel it. Listen to the music; you will feel it. Pay attention to the “performers”; you will feel it. There is something that these people are doing that is worth experiencing, because we just haven’t seen anything like it in any other musical genres in our area. There is a real community of actual human beings involved, producing music, and supporting one another and it just… is amazing to witness.
I am not guaranteeing you will see this right away. I am not guaranteeing you will like the artists you see. What I am telling you is that I am someone who has no affinity for or understanding of the hip hop world and when I go to Rap Night at the Big Easy I just KNOW there is something special going on. And it is addictive.
So I recommend you read what Kim Morrison has been writing about in our past entries regarding local hip hop artists. There are some truly thoughtful observations and you might get turned on to one of the people she has written about; they are always insightful, intelligent, and committed to high quality craftsmanship. I recommend you come to more than one Rap Night at the Big Easy and get a feel for what is happening. I’m not sure I personally understand it yet, but I can still feel it and tap into it. I know that it is something unique, but it’s more than that. It’s something I feel is essential to the human experience!
Upcoming shows to try out.
Rap Night presents: Cam Groves, Trails, OD, and more! This upcoming Wednesday Jan 25
SPDRHRTS, PT BURNEM, FREE STEAK DINNER, 32 FRENCH @ Geno’sThurs. Jan. 26
The 5th Annual Ruckus Cup Classic Emcee Battle Friday February 3
Rap Night every Wednesday at the Big Easy; stay tuned to the Rap-Night Portland facebook page to find out who will perform!
Written by Heather Omand
Rap-O-Lantern by Kim Morrison