The band of brothers (and sisters) celebrated the label’s 5th-year anniversary on their San Diego leg of the Left Coast Tour Saturday, July 25th. The show was scheduled to take place at The Irenic in North Park, but Beatrock decided to change locations at the last minute due to contract changes made by The Irenic staff just 36 (or less) hours before the concert was set to take place.
According to Bambu (1/2 of The Bar) the staff at The Irenic aired some unwarranted, and possibly culturally-charged concerns about “you know, the marijuana that’s smoked at hip hop shows” and due to such concerns, the curfew for the night went from 1 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. – hip hop fans and aficionados know that the first act usually doesn’t grace the stage until about then, so it simply would not work.
While the unfortunate, and possibly wrongful treatment of Beatrock, and hip hop at large, was disappointing at best, and last minute venue change a bit of an obstacle to navigate, perhaps it was the only circumstance under which the collective should have performed in America’s Finest City. San Diego is considered one of the premier vacation destinations in the US, one of the most temperate climates in the world – and therefore one of the most desirable places to live, and home to the beauty of La Jolla, Point Loma, and the Gaslamp District, etc, but on just the other side of the veneer of perfection lies the real life of San Diego’s marginalized subcultures.
Just a stone’s throw from the impromptu venue, the humble yet effective art studio space, the Nebular Incubator, shone the illustrious Petco Park in all its glowing glory, while in the stadium’s shadows lie the city’s homeless, the struggling blue collar worker and the often misunderstood, misrepresented neighborhood of Barrio Logan.
The setting went from the jewel in San Diego’s nightlife’s crown – North Park, to a dark, quiet street in one of San Diego’s often neglected neighborhoods. While some may have thrown in the towel under such frustration and stress (the sound system was still being tweaked well after the show was scheduled to begin), but local artist Odessa Kane and his SD family, both literal and figurative, banded together and pulled off an intensely emotional, celebratory and powerful night of hip hop music and culture, resulting in a great deal of camaraderie and solidarity. Perhaps the most beautiful gesture of all is that the venue change did not become a focal point of the night, rather simply another hinderance to the movement, another one overcome by grassroots sticktoitiveness.
First to hit the stage was the youngster of the family, Bwan who set the bar for every act to follow, commanding the audience’s attention with his stage presence and confidence, as well as lyrical prowess. Power Struggle followed with a deeply community-centric message, offering live instrumentation, rapping, singing and an overall call to action, a call implicit in the music to build with those around you. Amazingly complimentary emcees Otayo Dubb and Equipto, who just released Baby Steps, shared, in dynamic style, probably the most broad-stroked picture of Beatrock’s core values, touching on the full gamut of life experience. The newest addition to Beatrock, SD’s own Odessa Kane, absolutely stole the show with the convergence of paying dues on the label, representing his city for his city/community which helped pull off the last minute locale change, and fresh, heartfelt material off of his recently released EP, Left to Bear Arms (as well as the fiery content of Cuetes and Balisongs) . Numerous attendees mentioned the energy, enthusiasm and craftsman’s skill with which Kane performed, not to mention all of that combined with the great sweetness he shared with his wife, kids and fans before and after his set. Bambu and Prometheus Brown (aka Geologic of Blue Scholars) together are The Bar, and the duo displayed their years of experience in their ability to create a narrative with their set, yet tell individual stories with each song, and to improvise in the open moments in their set, creating the most holistic experience by any of the performers. The first lady of Beatrock Music, Rocky Rivera, shut the night down in fine fashion, adding her sharp-tongued delivery to the variety of styles and perspectives shared.
#SDLovesHipHop exists to carry on a conversation about hip hop music and culture as a catalyst to effect change in individuals’ lives and communities. If any of the artists above, or this article has struck a chord in you, then please leave a comment.