Summer ends with hip hop explosion

Saturday night at Stillwater the stage was lit up and bass pounded during the End of Summer Hip Hop Explosion.

The event featured six acts and a surprise appearance by Momo Smitt, a local hip-hop legend of sorts, and Damian Grey, a Portland based emcee and member of Bad Habitat, opened the show. The group is currently working their way through the northwest on their Underrated Favorites tour.

"It's been rough," said Flawless of Bad Habitat whose crew spent two nights sleeping in parks on their way up from Sacramento, "but we're road warriors."

The group drove 12 hours from Portland to Sacramento only five days ago and have been on a breakneck schedule since.

The show was put together and hosted by Julius Powell and Face of One Movement who introduced the majority of the acts and made sure minor technical difficulties did not balloon into massive catastrophes.

"It went pretty smoothly given the number of acts." said Face. "The atmosphere was great. Props to everybody in the building."

On the whole conscious music was the theme of the event. Intelligent and poetic lyrics touching on subjects ranging from poverty to drug addition, and recovery to geopolitics and the state of our nation were prevalent throughout the night.

"I never knew about this type of rap music before," said Jamie Miller who traveled from Weed, Calif., to see the show. "It clearly demands respect."

Second in the line up was Black Ops, a rap duo out of Medford, which kept the evening rolling with its energetic performance highlighted by a track paying homage to Southern Oregon.

Next up was Black Science, a two-emcee group out of Sacramento, which rocked their set consisting of entertaining lyrics put down over beats produced in Greece.

Halfway through the night TLA, an Ashland based hip-hop group featuring live instrumentation, took the stage and drew a noteworthy audience to the floor.

"I was really impressed with TLA," said Momo Smitt. "They brought it live even though they were the least known of the show."

Diezel P, who is not only an emcee but also a youth counselor and a columnist who chronicles the Portland hip-hop scene, rocked an impressive set after TLA which covered many socially relevant concepts and engaged the crowd with his lyricism and subject matter.

"Diezel is definitely dope," an audience member was overheard accidentally alliterating to another.

While many people congregated outside in the smoking area and in the parking lot, the vast majority made their way to the entrances as soon as Momo Smitt began his mini-set which included "Capo," "The Grind," "Mood Swing" — one of his newer songs featuring a rather peculiar, but curiously catchy beat, and "Break Me Down," a local favorite.

After Mo Mo rocked the crowd Bad Habitat took the stage and gave the crowd a taste of Portland hip-hop.

In between sets, Dilan Danha, TLA's bass player, and a native of Kurdistan, Iraq got the chance to offer up a song he had written about his life growing up and his journey to America, the second verse of which was rhymed completely in Assyrian over a beat-box provided by Paul Jr.

Last, Julius Powell and Face of One Movement got the crowd moving with their live and rambunctious performance which featured tracks from Julius's solo album "Vivid" including Hip-Hop Box, Dread Bangers Ball and Dance like Nobody's Watching You which oddly enough brought an audience member up to the stage to do exactly that.

The evening was brought to a close with a beat-boxed freestyle session featuring Paul Jr., T and Milisa Childers of TLA, Julius Powell and Face of One Movement and Momo Smitt who took turns rocking the microphone while Milisa added a smooth harmony to the mix.

"It was absolutely amazing sharing the stage with such talented people," said Milisa of TLA.

"The show was definitely supa solid," said Powell, "It was an awesome mixed bag of hip-hop flavor, the crowd was great and I want to thank everybody who made it out."

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