by Eric Mullis
My band, Actual Proof, recently had a live hip-hop group open up for us at a recent show. Watching and listening to them got me thinking: Its tough to pull off live hip-hop for several reasons some artistic and some technical.
Theres no shortage of MCs who think theyve got it but, in fact, need to spend some long hard hours rehearsing their material. Ive also seen MCs who are good with their tracks but have problems working with a live band. The interaction that makes for a good live performance is difficult for MCs who spend all their time flowing over tracks. Unfortunately, you cant just get up on stage with a live band and hope that all goes well.
The biggest problem is the inability to actually understand what the MC is saying. I remember when Galactic came through Charlotte last year and did a show at the Visulite that included several MCs. The bands stage volume made it near impossible to hear the MCs, which was a damn shame. The CD that includes tracks with the MCs is hot and the live show didnt do it justice. You evidently need a good sound man and a good room to ensure the whole thing doesnt end up being a distorted mess.
Then theres the audience. Many audiences especially younger ones dig live hip-hop but there are many out there who have problems appreciating it. Some of our fans enjoyed our opener and dug it when the MC flowed over one of our songs, but some were turned off. Im not sure why but, if I had to guess, Id say that its probably due to hasty generalization. That is, there are many styles of hip-hop out there and its likely that some folks only know hip-hop as the angry, confrontational kind thats filled with profanity and way too much crotch-grabbing.
But, hip-hop is more than that. Theres old-school, roots and jazzy hip-hop as well as the hip-hop thats blended with R&B. Oh yes, dont forget the poetic spoken word thats often performed with live music.
So, check out some of Charlottes live hip-hop troupes and let me know what you think.
There are plenty of examples, but here are just a few to get you started:
Feel free to add others in the comments below.