If local artists like Dre Robinson, Termanology, and Natural Born Spitters have anything to say about it, Boston is about to earn some overdue respect on the national hip-hop scene. And you can hear them first.
Talk to local hip-hop aficionados, and theyll tell you Boston is home to some of the best underground hip-hop artists in the nation. Artists like Dre Robinson and Slaine may not have the name recognition of high-profile local acts like the Perceptionists, and they may be all but unknown to mainstream audiences, but theyre steadily honing their chops and building audiences for their material. This up-and-coming group of rappers is at the leading edge of what one local performer, DL, calls Bostons new hip-hop renaissance. They dont have major-label recording or distribution deals, but theyve worked with national stars like Mobb Deep, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, DJ Lethal from House of Pain, Terror Squad, and others. Their stuff is getting played on both commercial and college radio, and local listeners are buying their CDs. It all adds up to a collective profile thats becoming larger and more sharply defined. During the next two weeks, Bostonians can see these emerging artists up close at a series of shows around town. Check them out, and you can say you saw them when.
DL, Dre Robinson, and Natural Born Spitters, with special guests Lyrical, and IroQ & John Doe
Sunday, Milky Way Lounge
DL hails from Roxbury and has had a lot of recent airplay on college radio stations around New England. His song Massterpiece, which samples the Cheers theme, has been the No. 1 requested song on WERS, the Emerson College station, over the past year, according to Kevin Dingle, a station DJ who hosts a hip-hop show under the name Kerosene. DLs smooth delivery and catchy hooks are supported by inventive, head-bobbing beats, and his lyrics are considered part of the emerging conscious movement in hip-hop, one that forgoes prevailing hip-hop themes of violence, misogyny, and materialism.
Natural Born Spitters a pair of cousins, originally from Roxbury and now based in Cambridge, otherwise known as EFlash and V-Knucks attack the ears in a style EFlash describes as an intellectual street movement. V-Knucks adds that the trials and tribulations of the streets are written in our scripts. Natural Born Spitters sold 1,000 copies of their album, In Due Time, in just four months following its completion in 2002. A year later they released their widely praised mixtape, Green Heist II, which included Come and Get It, featuring Big Daddy Kane. EFlash says NBS packed the Middle East for a show last year, a rarity for an unsigned act.
With their album and several mixtapes available, and a new album on the way theyve begun recording, but no release date is set NBS is developing fast, says Pete Mazalewski, who DJs under the name Mr. Peter Parker at Hot 97.7.
403-405 Centre St., Jamaica Plain. 617-524-3740. 9 p.m. $5. 21+ www.milkywayjp.com
Beast Mode @ Night featuring Dre Robinson, with R Da Fact, IroQ & John Doe, Cekret Society, Survival Unit, Lyrical, and Slaine. Hosted by Kerosene.
Aug. 24, the Greatest Bar
Mazalewski describes Robinson as one of the most exciting artists in the Boston hip-hop scene. He has mass appeal, Mazalewski says. Hes definitely going to make it.
Robinson, from Dorchester, is a ferocious lyricist who attacks the mike with intense lyricism and catchy hooks. His song Get Right, off his album Starvin 2: Still Hungry, was remixed by Mobb Deep and has received considerable radio play on stations like Jamn 94.5 and WERS. Robinson was recently approached by Universal for a nationwide distribution deal. Id be happy to open the door for [Boston hip-hop artists] on a national scale, Robinson says. Hell release a new album, This Is Me, in the fall, along with a companion mixtape, Who Am I, and will support them with a national tour.
IroQ & John Doe are a powerful Cambridge-based duo that Dingle says deserves more attention. Their 2002 release, Brotherly Love, samples old Motown tracks for its hooks and has a decidedly old-school flavor. Their song Believe was the second-most requested song on WERS over the past year. Their latest project, a mixtape called The Uprising, features the hit Thugg Life with KJ.
We just use music to talk about what weve seen, IroQ says of their work. Whether its good or bad, its our lives.
The duo has a new album, My Brothers Keeper, due out Aug. 30, and their songs will be featured on an upcoming Mandalay Films movie soundtrack.
Lyrical, from Lowell, has been around hip-hop for a long time, and it shows in his upcoming release, Infinite, due out Sept. 9. As his performing name suggests, Lyrical is a wordsmith with a flowing delivery, and his hooks are as potent as his beats. As a measure of his flexibility, one of his new songs, Ghetto Intellectual, masterfully delves into reggae, with help from Koki Man. The record release party for Infinite will be held at Massive Records (1105 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-576-1887) Aug. 27 at 3 p.m.
262 Friend St., Boston. 617-367-0544. 10 p.m. $10, $12 door. 21+. www.thegreatestbar.com
Slaine, with DL and Cekret Society
Aug. 25, the Reel Bar
Mazalewski describes Slaine, from South Boston, as one of the citys most talented hip-hop artists, one who exudes mass appeal. Hes been compared to Necro and Ill Bill, but his voice is smoother and he creates tenaciously catchy hooks. He uses layering masterfully, and isnt afraid to inject a lot of emotion into his rapping. His mixtape, White Man Is Devil Part II, is a well-crafted yet deranged look at a cocaine binge. Im teaching people about drugs, Slaine says. I walk outside in South Boston and I see drugs but nobody wants to talk about it. Lethal and Danny Boy, both from House of Pain, produced a number of tracks on the mixtape.
Slaine has teamed up with local legend Edo G for a November release called Special Teams, and plans to release a solo album in April. You can catch Slaine with Edo G on Saturday at the Water Club in Quincy.
477 Cambridge St., Allston. 617-783-3222. 9 p.m. $8. 21+.
Termanology, with St. Da Squad
Aug. 27, Knights of Columbus, Lawrence
Termanology, from Lawrence, is featured in the Source, the magazine devoted to hip-hop culture, next month in a feature called Unsigned Hype, which is where the legendary Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G. got his start. Termanologys beats are crisp, and Mazalewski describes him as one of the hardest working rappers in the game. His rhyming and vocabulary are his strengths, and his hooks are laid back while retaining a hardcore edge. Typical of his work is the song Rear View Mirror off his album Hood Politics II, released earlier this year that features a menacing beat beneath effortlessly flowing lyrics, all bolstered by top-notch production. His new album, Hood Politics III, is due out in November, along with a mix tape featuring a song with previously unreleased tracks of B.I.G. rapping, recorded shortly before he was shot to death in 1997.
1 Market St., Lawrence. 978-687-9834. 9 p.m. $10. All ages.
Mic Stylz, Clip One, Golden Brown, and Q-Unique of the Arsonists, with special guest DJ On-and-On
Aug. 31, the Greatest Bar
Mic Stylz is a lyricist who isnt afraid to look in the mirror. Im a white boy from the suburbs, says Stylz, whos from Andover. I sought out hip-hop before it was popular to do so.
Stylz, a former on-air personality at Jamn 94.5, has been rapping since the early 1990s. He plays on words and is a gifted lyricist. Hes done songs with Krumbsnatcha, Poverty, and Grafh, and has been featured on Shade 45 mixtapes. Hes performed with KRS-1 and opened for Eve, among others. Mic Stylz is phenomenal, Mazalewski enthuses. He has melodic hooks. ..... Hes a superstar.
His current single, Bringing It Back, featuring Esoteric, is getting radio play and a lot of buzz in the local hip-hop scene. A new album, Found, along with a mixtape, Lost, are due out in November, and Stylz says hell perform anywhere there are shows. His Aug. 31 performance is part of the Mr. Peter Parker of Hot 97.7 Birthday Bash, hosted by Kerosene.
262 Friend St., Boston. 617-367-0544. 9 p.m. $10. 21+. www.mrpeterparker.com