Shadowrunners, War Of Icaza, Larry Susan, Antwon (DJ set)
4067 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90019
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is all ages
Much is often made of the relationship between artist and place. A common consideration for sure, yet it seems foolish to appraise any artist without considering the effect of his location on everything from his unique worldview to his understanding and use of the various elements that make up his musical vision.
Consider then what it means to make music in the following landscape: a city famed for its fearlessness and endeavor, struck by despair and shuttered. A city in which delicate, perfumed beauty sits aside rancid, mangled poverty. A city wide eyed and weary, at all times both monument and bulldozer, remaining itself through constant "de" and "re"construction.
That city is New York and the band is RATKING. Wiki, Hak and Sporting Life. While many of their peers seem too content to inhabit the safety of mimicry and pastiche, RATKING's music is best understood as neither reenactment nor recreation, but reaction.
To what, one might ask? Well, a clip from any one of their frenetic live shows provides an immediate answer: you hear the fallout of a bloated and self satisfied hip hop, the nihilist refrain of dead end punk and the prickly reach for connection that befits their noise and experimental influences. Left with the various remaining bits of all these traditions and the bum-rush scramble of modern life, RATKING are creating a new reality in every moment, just like every other inhabitant of New York City. While Sporting Life weaves a teeming Big Apple backdrop, Wiki and Hak act not only as our mischievous tour guides but dual ends of our own conscious: one sharp witted, vulnerable and seemingly anti-social, the other feral, poetic and almost philosophical. Call it 'no wave' rap. Call it 'no school' hip hop. Call it RATKING
Antwon (DJ set)
Give any of Antwon's critically acclaimed mixtapes or albums a cursory listen and you'll hear a gifted MC worthy of the blogosphere's accolades. But given more focused attention, you'll realize how much the San Jose-based hip-hop artist's output deviates from the bass-heavy, weed-laced posi-vibes of his West Coast compatriots. Antwon hardly shies away from punishing low-end or chemical enhancement, but his fatalistic litanies and short-sharp-shock attack have little to do with the mainstream rap game. On average, his early songs tapped-out at the two minute mark, giving him just enough time to spit out a couple of verses before lashing into his next spiel. And while not averse to lifting hooks from old funk songs or '80s synth ballads, Antwon typically veers towards caustic sound sources, industrial-like dirges, and swaths of digital haze. Rather than simply using the music as the springboard for to inundate the listener with his rhymes, Antwon employs his craft judiciously to allow the production to have it's own voice. Even his lyrics seem out of step with conventional hip-hop, with the braggart's vanity of big name artists eschewed in favor of grim, impoverished nihilism.
Antwon's unique style makes all the more sense when one acknowledges his punk roots. From his Bay Area powerviolence-steeped past through his tenure in filth-ridden hardcore band Leather, Antwon's love of hip-hop has been offset by his appreciation for the more brutal niches of underground rock. Despite rock and hip-hop's domination in three decades of pop culture, few attempts at bridging the stylistic divide between the two communities have yielded respectable success stories. Perhaps the most obvious reason for the long list of failures in this brand of crossover stems from the glut of ham-fisted appropriations from guitar-centric artists who have no real grasp of hip-hop's roots. For every Check Your Head, there are a million Significant Other equivalents. Ultimately, the ability to operate in both worlds with any sort of style and credibility has required a genuine understanding and appreciation for their distinctively innate qualities. You can't just cram rap verses into a rock format or lazily sample a Metallica hook and expect intriguing results. The magic of Antwon's craft is that he manages to apply the aesthetics of crucial underground bands—the succinct outbursts of Infest, the mechanical throb and lush layers of Jesu, the cocaine-night nostalgia of Chromatics—into a hip-hop format.
Antwon's deft ability to absorb and recontextualize disparate musical elements has not gone unrecognized. While it's no surprise that his refreshing approach has won an audience in the hip-hop world, it's the percolating excitement over his tracks in the fickle indie rock press world and the hardcore-matinee-level crowd eruptions at his shows that really demonstrate Antwon's burgeoning position as one of the leading voices in the rap community. With this building fanbase sending him out for performances across the U.S., U.K., and the far reaches of the European continent, Antwon's cross-pollinated empire looms larger every day.