Cultivating Your New Experience

By Brett Roegiers

The hip-hop artists that performed at Common Grounds on Friday night could be described as the antithesis of the unimaginative and exploited mainstream.

If you are at all into Floridaís emerging hip-hop scene, then you would know that the all-star lineup at this event was something not to be missed. But in case you did miss it, let me tell you exactly how it went down and recommend that the next time any of these artists perform, be there.

Opening acts Stres and Soarse Spoken made the six-hour drive from Miami and started the evening off right. They are both a part of the Botanica del Jibaro label, the hip-hop extension of the Beta Bodega Coalition, which aims to raise consciousness and shed light on Third World struggles.

Stres has been rhyming since the mid-Ď90s, and his performance was laid back and far from stressful. Even when he had technical difficulties, he just finished the track acapella and changed the batteries in the portable CD player.

Soarse Spoken was more energetic and aggressive than Stres, but just as poetic. In fact, it turns out that in addition to being an emcee, he has also participated in poetry slams.

When Intellekt and Dirty Digits took the stage, it seemed as if the crowd more than doubled in size and the energy increased tenfold. Having seen this local duo perform at their CD release party in December, I knew what to expect, and they did not disappoint.

Thatís not to say that it was predictable. At one point during the show, Intellekt invited an audience member on stage to join him in eating a beef taco. Not wanting to leave the vegans out, he distributed some sweet and salty nut granola bars.

The interaction between emcee and deejay really set Intellekt and Dirty Digits apart, and they both had their time in the forefront to prove that they have mastered their respective crafts. Intellektís delivery was on point and his lyrics were straightforward and innovative. Dirty Digitsí scratches were well-executed, and the sample-based beats sounded classic and fresh at the same time.

Intellekt and Dirty Digits also made sure to keep the crowd involved, using call-and-response chants and soul claps and making sure that everyone was having a good time. It was obvious that they love what they do, and thatís always a good thing.

Up next was Miamiís Seven Star, and the deejay was once again replaced by a CD player. Seven Starís expressive lyrics were at once direct and reflective, and the downtempo beats provided the perfect backdrop.

To end his set, Seven Star did an acapella piece and demanded the talkative audienceís attention. When he didnít get it, he jumped off stage and recited the song without a microphone in the faces of the minglers.

Next, four emcees and one deejay took the stage, and Asamov sonically assaulted the audience, waking up anyone who may have been getting tired.

Asamovís whole show was insanely energetic, and I couldnít help thinking of Jurassic 5. Maybe it was just the number of people on stage combined with their sheer charisma.

The Jacksonville-based group is signed to 6 Hole Records, a hip-hop label owned by Major League Baseball player Desi Relaford.

My only complaint about Asamov is that they didnít have a full-length CD available yet. I got a 12Ē to hold me over until their debut is released later this year.

CYNE closed out the night and, in my mind, solidified their status as Gainesvilleís finest hip-hop group. Itís no wonder they have received international acclaim.

Vocal duties are shared by Akin and Cise Star, and the top-notch production is handled by Speck and Enoch. Friday night, only one of the producers was on stage, standing behind an Apple laptop and providing the hypnotic beats for the two emcees.

Continuing with the progressive, forward-thinking theme of the evening, Akin and Cise Star delivered their socially-conscious lyrics over the head-nodding pulse of the music, and I donít think anyone was left unimpressed.

CYNE should have a new album done by the end of this year, which will be released on City Centre Offices, the Germany-based record label that put out the groupsí most recent EP.