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Topic: event reports
So the guy who never wins anything ended up scoring a pair of tickets to the Giant Step holiday bash last Monday. Unfortunately, wifey?s in the midst of grad school hell, so she couldn?t go. My man Mikal had a freestyle session to host that night, so I called on my friend Ezekiel. He was down, so I met up with him in front of the Canal Room for entry. The holiday bash also doubles as an annual toy drive, which is really cool of them to do. All toys were donated to the IHB day treatment center, which takes in boys and girls ages 5-12. Felt good to bring some games down for the kids.
The Canal Room is quite glam looking, a place you?d expect all the beautiful people to hang out. Unfortunately, this is how most bars and venues in the city look as of late, as if only the trendy matter. For those of us that don?t feel the need to keep up appearances, the down-home and humble spot has quickly died out in NYC (if anyone knows of any left, let a brother know). Interestingly enough, the Canal Room used to be Shine, which used to be the New Music Cafe some ten years ago. It was there that I first got an education in how to be musically diverse in the mix and make it work. It was the fall of 1994 when I had my first Giant Step experience. During this time, Giant Step was a weekly party; they had yet to become the marketing giant they are now. Nickodemus opened up for the night and Jazzy Nice spun for most of it. Special guests included Sens Unik, a hip-hop band from Switzerland ? they did my head in. I heard hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz, and house all in one night. It completely changed the way I thought out listening to music and spinning records before a crowd.
(Come 2005, Giant Step will have been in existence for 15 years. That?s just nuts.)
But that was then. Last Monday represented the now with sponsorships by LG Mobile Phones and Puma, a varied crowd ranging from the soulful to the hipster to the corporate. Drinks were being served with little lights in them. Zeke says, ?Hey! I wanna drink with a light in it.? After a while, we both started to wonder how that could possibly be safe. It was then I concluded that neon must be the new hip ingredient to put in your drink (abysinthe was SO last year?). All that aside, the music was still bangin?. A number of joints in the opening set: J-Dilla?s take on ?F**K The Police,? SA-RA?s ?Glorious,? a track called ?Feelin?? from Q-Tip?s Kamal The Abstract project, and a bunch of others. While waiting the live performance to start, Zeke and I shot the breeze talkin? about music (what else?) and I got to catch up with my man Emil (DJ Center of Open Thought) as well. Saw Synapse in the place later on that night, too ? he is one seriously hard workin? DJ. It?s good to see heads out there doin? it and not lettin? the BS and the drama get to them. That?s encouraging.
Special guests Dwele and Slum Village?s T3 introduced the live act for the evening, The Platinum Pied Pipers. They have an album out on the Ubiquity label entitled PPP. Waajeed and Saadiq definitely bring the funk flavors with the hip-hop swagger not too far behind. They kept the performance loose (perhaps a little too loose ? they seemed a bit unorganized at times) so they could just flow and let their vocalists get open. Opening their set was a MC named Invincible. She stormed on stage decked out in army fatigues and her hair in pigtails. I think a good number of heads in the audience didn?t know what to think when they saw her, but she KILLED IT. Real ill flow ? watch for her. She got busy later on in the night with a freestyle session alongside T3 and Wordsworth (who?s just nasty off the top of the head). They took words from the audience and just went with it. Also making an appearance from the album was vocalist Tiombe, whose sultry pipes won the crowd over. Mark my words, there?s a big band project in sista girl?s future.
After PPP got through rockin? the house, it was Dego?s turn to take things to the next level. Dego MacFarlane is best known for his work as one-half of the duo 4 Hero and runs his own record label entitled 2000 Black, an imprint responsible for turning the world onto future soul sounds (what most call ?broken beat?). He kicked off the set with a tasty cover of ?Evil Vibrations? done by The Rebirth. Gotta admit, I fronted on this cover when I first heard it. You gotta hear it in a party setting ? you can?t help but get caught up in it with everybody else. (For those that don?t know, ?Evil Vibrations? was originally done by The Mighty Ryeders and was heavily sampled for De La Soul?s ?A Roller Skating Jam Called Saturdays.?) A little later, he threw in Spymusic?s ?Cloak? (hot midtempo jazzy house) as well as Soho?s ?Hot Music? (doesn?t matter how many times you play it, the joint will still fill the floor).
Then he launched into some broken platters and soulful house. Great tunes all the way, but I can?t say Dego?s the most technical cat in the game. Some sloppy segues here and there (one or two were straight up trainwrecks), but as a few heads relayed the next day on the Giant Step bulletin board, that?s not why he?s paid the big bucks to spin. Brother man?s a tastemaker and a dope producer, and that can?t be denied. (Check for the DKD tune ?Future Rage? and you?ll see what I mean. Just naaaasty.) Got my dance on until about 2:30 a.m., then broke out for the long subway trek home. Thankfully, I did the smart thing and took a personal day so that I could recover. Hooray for contest winnings.