Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Nothing Gives Good Music Back to Gettysburg

After my struggle this past summer to find hip-hop friendly venues in Gettysburg, I never thought there would be a place for a hip hop show in my hometown. However, last night I was proven wrong by The Nothing at their "A Little Thanks Given" concert at the Ragged Edge, a coffee shop typically more accustomed to singer-songwriters than DJs and MCs. The Speak Easy has played a few open mics at the Ragged Edge before but we never got a crowd quite as hype as what The Nothing got to see last night.

I was surprised that there even is another hip hop group in Gettysburg when I read Adam Michael's article in The Gettysburg Times but the trio of emcees, Solomen Pade (Kendrick Johnson), Wallypeanuts aka Mar (Jamar Tyler), and Teddy Holmes, along with DJ Doug Shue, thoroughly rocked a standing-room-only crowd on the second floor of the coffee shop.
I had my camera off for the beginning of Mar's introduction to this next song, "There Ain't No Love," and I really regret that because it was best song of the set in my opinion. Essentially, Mar said he was watching Oprah one day and saw her talking about a list of the happiest countries in the world and America was not very high on the list, in fact we did not even break into the top ten. He said that with the amount of wealth and prosperity we have in America, we should have health care for everyone that needs it and education for anyone that wants it.

Mar said he wasn't trying to be negative. Judging from the crowd's response to his song, he had no real reason to worry about ruining the good times. While a lot of political hip hop songs gets panned for being too preachy or angry, I thought Mar's song struck a good tone with an audience that could appreciate the substance of Mar's material. The song's straightforward message energized a crowd that had taken a little extra time to warm up. I think part of this was because the three MCs were on the floor with the audience. I even had to stand on top of a chair to get these videos. While the crowd was mostly still, occasionally bobbing their heads or raising their hands in the air, they were keenly focused on every word from the group.

I think the video really reflects how well their mix turned out. The show, which was supposed to start at 7, was delayed about a half hour for the sake of perfecting the mix. With most hip hop shows, I usually hear someone complain about how bad mixes make it impossible to understand a word the musicians are saying, even some of the best MCs can have bad mixes. When I saw the Wu-Tang Clan at second day in New York for Rock The Bells 2007, the mix was terrible; the instrumentals were too soft and it made the group sound like they were just shouting. But when I saw them at the Trocadero Theatre last year the mix was perfect and they could exhibit their mastery of their craft. Even artists like the Wu can get ruined by a bad mix and The Nothing showed they knew how to run things themselves.

Here's the last two songs from the set:

You can hear songs from The Nothing's latest release, Digital Villains, at their website...
...or you can buy the whole album on Amazon.