• 23Jun

    [Recap] Random Axe Album Release Show At Southpaw

    Last night at Southpaw in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the boys of Duck Down Records came out to play. If you know anything about Duck Down, you know that despite their myriad spinoffs, solo acts, team-ups and collaborations, they all effectively operate as one huge family. Like the Three Musketeers — whether it’s Boot Camp Clik, Torae, Kidz in the Hall, Random Axe, or any other of their hefty roster, the mantra is consistently, “all-for-one, one-for-all.” As such, fans can rest assured that if one Duck Down artist is billed for a show in NYC, he is sure to bring some friends along for the ride.

    For the Random Axe album release party, things were no different. Billed to perform were Skyzoo, Black Moon and Random Axe, with DJ sets from DJ Meka of 2dopeboyz.com and DJ Evil Dee, repping his BeatMinerz Radio. But that was only the start. After Meka’s fantastic opening set welcoming partygoers as they entered the arena and a few shout outs to backpacks, BlackPlanet.com and “internets” from the evening’s host, blogger Dallas Penn, Evil Dee hit the stage with his entire Beat Minerz entourage, all rocking matching Beat Minerz Tees. Flipping, scratching, rocking and mixing up the sets, Evil Dee killed his set proper, giving the crowd track after track of classic hits. My favorite part of his set was when he yelled “theme song!!” into the mic, building a brief period of intense anticipation amongst the crowd, only to seamlessly drop a few seconds of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” Really? The crowd didn’t know what to do. It was hilarious. The beats continued as the fans filed in and the Beat Minerz boys were having a ball.

    Following this, Skyzoo hit the stage with his trumpet player, OJ. By this point, the crowd was thick, the cameras had come out, and everyone was going nuts. Skyzoo gave a high-energy performance notable particularly for his ability to connect with the crowd’s intensity and bring it even higher. The Crown Heights-bred emcee promoted his latest mixtape, The Great Debater, released earlier this month, touting it as DJBooth.net’s #1 downloaded mixtape, and also explained a bit of his complex lyricism, breaking down a line from the song “Test Drive”: “Made me Nevermind like I was Frances’ pops. / Said it smells like teen spirit when you stand on my block.”

    DJ Evil Dee, also one third of Black Moon, came back up once Skyzoo had finished and mixed it up a bit more before the rest of his team hit the stage: none other than Duck Down co-founder Buckshot and his lyrical partner-in-crime, 5FT. Again, the crowd went nuts and cameras started flashing. After a couple songs, the surprises began when Buckshot gave a shout out to Torae, in the building, and Duck Down exec Dru-Ha came out and spit a verse himself. Buckshot took it back and Black Moon finished their set spectacularly, but the guests kept coming. Rock, of Heltah Skeltah, showed up and spit some craziness in his basso-profundo voice. Steele, of Smif-n-Wessun, came out and promoted their upcoming collab with Pete Rock, Monumental, due out June 28th. Sean Price even stepped out momentarily, if only just to be up there with the family. Together, the boys spit some classics off the cuff, and when the music stopped they spit a cappella. Then they cut off Rock’s mic mid-verse, and he just switched to another one. For a second there, it was pandemonium, and I was beginning to wonder if Random Axe was ever going to hit the stage.

    But hit the stage they did. Once they finally got the Boot Camp Clik boys to step down, I was in heaven. Sean P kicked it off with “Figure 4”, then out came Guilty Simpson with “Clap.” Black Milk was on the sets, but after a couple Random Axe jams he came out to the front and did a couple of his own. Their set was extensive; they performed pretty much the entire Random Axe album, along with several solo jams. Rock even came back out to do a Heltah Skeltah track with Sean P. Being a hardcore D-Town fan myself, I did notice the crowd was much more acquainted with Sean P’s catalogue than that from the 313 pair, but even still, they gave the same love to all three.

    By the end of the show, ears ringing, legs shaking, I felt great. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this awesome experience, it’s that in the world of underground Hip-Hop, for accomplished solo artists, each with their own extensive discographies, common ground for collaborative work is still easy to find. Random Axe is a superb accomplishment, but even more so it is an inspiration and a motivation. The world of underground Hip-Hop is local, regional, national, global, all at the same time. And its fruits are sweeter than honey.

    Random Axe will perform at the 2011 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival along with Stalley, Shad, Nitty Scott MC, Eternia, Homeboy Sandman, M.O.P., Lordz of the Underground, headliner Q-Tip & Friends and more.

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    Follow Travis Jones on Twitter @jonestr

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