Northwestern University once strongly considered tearing down Shalney Pavilion, an ancient, blackened glorified work and storage shed on one of the sylvan sections of the school’s Evanston, Ill. campus in Chicagoland’s Near North Shore suburbs next door to Garrett Theological Seminary parking lot and century old University Hall. Fortunately for an all-ages crowd of beautiful hip-headheads, the university kept the old thing and rented it out to WNUR-FM’s weekly “Time Travel” hip-hop show, the “Streetbeat” urban programming division it falls under at the NU station, and 3 Wisemen Entertainment for spring and summer concerts. The result was the “Rise of the North Star” show May 25.
Whether the show’s title was an allusion to the Minnesotans on the bill or them collectively along with their Illinoisan and Ohioan colleagues is unclear. In either case, the acts from the Prairie and Buckeye states clearly shone brighter than their colleagues from the North Star State in substance and form.
Southern Chicagoland’s All Natural’s performance quickly evolved into a Family Tree gig, but without the disastrous effect of their headlining Slick’s Lounge appearance earlier in May. With the added presence of Cap-D’s spiritually orthodox Islamic emceeing and mic-controlling and Tone B Nimble’s turntable patriarching, the collective was truly a family instead of a loose confederation of prodigal elements existing in their own spheres (although All Natural, Mr. Greenweedz, Iomos Maraud, and the Indianan Daily
Planet twins to some extent exquisitely held their own separately).
All-city Typical Cats ran the gamut of mic-controlling abandon, with the trio’s Qwel nervously lounging toward and from the crowd with smoothly seething verse and Qwaazar leisurely kicking his moderately frothing lyricism about the stage. Korean-American Denezin Kane went for a total mic-controlling effect of segueing from spoken word to rap—he is after all one of the two male poets in I Was Born With Two Tongues—proving that golden power will get your mama if you ain’t careful.
How Eyedea of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Rhymesayers crew won the last national Blaze MC Battle was not evident on Shanley’s stage (he attributed it to wearing his lucky white shelltoe Adidases with a hole in the sole). Only his locking and seizing up flow for mediocre rhyme fell flatter than his attempt at a Beat area standup type of emceeing. Eyedea’s albino and me lanin-deficient Rhymesayers kinsman, Brother Ali, was far funkier by his lonesome before he joined in (their Minnesota DJ appeared a tad nervous and confused about how to follow or lead Eyedea).
Cincinnati’s Mr. Dibb’s, a usual, mesmerized the crowd with his turntabling impressionism, this time executing his flairs over some metallic sounding rock. Molemen’s PNS was very much in his league with the rarefied funkiness he kicked from the turntables, although he needed to speak up a bit more so that the crowd could better enjoy his one-liner witticisms. Rubberoom’s DJ Stizo and Midwest DMC champ and Mass Hysteria’s DJ Presyce kept the party rocking till the very early morn.
Northwest Chicagoland’s Blaze MC battle national finalist Prime (né Optimus Prime) repeated extracting of reassurances from the crowd that he was sober—brought an improv flavor to his emceeing and mic-controlling worthy of future concert host opportunities for the lad. “Time Travel” host AMC juggled some wry emceeing with calling out directions for the sound boards to “Streetbeat” program director Kate Simko, when he was not working the boards
MARK FITZGERALD ARMSTRONG
11706 SOUTH THROOP STREET
CHICAGO, IL 60643