Before heading over to Lux Lounge and Timaya late on Friday night, I attended an earlier show at Tropicalia. That venue has hosted several Internationally Known hip-hop nights over the past year, and Friday’s was the first that I was able to attend. Sahelblog and a couple of African music watchers from the VOA were also on hand, although the crowd was heartbreakingly small (come on DC!).
I briefly spoke with Magee McIlvaine, one of the creative minds behind Nomadic Wax and the Internationally Known series. He was incredibly chill and open. I commend him for the work he is doing to bring African hip-hop to the US and look forward to future events that he brings to the area.
The event featured a number of performers, representing Senegal, Zimbabwe. Sierra Leone, Mali, and a couple of Western diaspora countries as well.
Waterflow of Senegal opened. Some Senegalese students in the audience were very excited by his presence and I have to admit that he was the highlight of the night for me as well, with a deep-throated delivery that somewhat resembled DMX.
He was followed by Dumi Right, who I understand is of Zimbabwean descent and grew up in several southern African countries before coming to the US. Dumi engaged in quite a bit of call and response action and was the primary emcee of the night.
Two emcees received primary billing on the show. The first was Chosan, a Sierra Leonean raised in the UK who has since relocated to the US. Chosan employed quite a comedic streak between his songs and I found his delivery and reading of the crowd to be quite humorous. However, he concluded his set with a very poignant track about Trayvon Martin. Toward the end of the show, he briefly thought that he had lost his Ipod and expressed quite a bit of worry (it was found however).
Amkoullel, a Malian rapper who is gaining increasing prominence closed out the show. One of the VOA employees in attendance informed me that he was a trained lawyer. In any event, he was able to deliver extremely rapid fire lyrics, resembling a Malian Twista.
To conclude the show, all four came back out and delivered verses to the MOP ‘Ante Up’ instrumental. It was a great show that bridged the divide between Africa/the diaspora and Anglophone/Francophone countries. I hope that future shows will be better attended, step up DC!