Bringing Hip Hop Home:
a night of live music in my childhood backyard
On November 15th I had the privilege of hosting my first hip hop show with the Cape Coral stop of ESP's (aka E-Turn & SPS) "Extended Fam Tour featuring Madd Illz", and thinking about the venue still feels surreal to me. When E-Turn first told me of her plans to have a private concert tour where the hosts could choose any private venue or house, I knew I had to host and show off the amazing music my OZone friends make, and I knew Cape Coral was the spot to host it. With the name Extended Fam Tour, it only made sense to host it at my parents' house (My parents' house is our extended family's party spot). When I approached my mother, admittedly, I expected her answer to be a "Hell no". I mean, come on, I was asking to host a hip hop concert at their house, with some people that they'd never met. But after explaining the concept, showing videos of ESP and Madd Illz, she actually said yes.
First, allow me to set the stage. My parents have done an amazing job building up their house and property over the years and turning it into a warm and comfortable environment for family gatherings. In the backyard there is a hoop and small basketball court in the middle of the yard, surrounded by a huge mango tree on one side with a gazebo/swing and hammock and on the other side a wooden pirateship playground/deck that he built a few years back (for the grandkids to play on during the day and the adults to hang out on at night). The pirate ship became the stage, the court the dancefloor, and the swing/hammock the lounge.
The show kicked off with a dope opening set by Ashy To Jazzy's The Workin Class. As Dree & Unknown laid down some ill bars (accompanied by DJ SPS on the 1's & 2's), the dancefloor was immediately taken over by the kiddies! Madd Illz followed and, in typical fashion, immediately captivated everyone in the audience with his witty punchlines and fast rapping. We even caught on camera an audible "wooh!" from my sister (who doesn't consider herself a big fan of hip hop) during his version of Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now". Needless to say, the stage was sufficiently warmed (nearly burnt down) for ESP. I can't recall how many times I've seen E-Turn & DJ SPS now, but without a doubt this show will remain my favorite. While I was posted up in the back of the crowd just kind of taking it all in, my Mom came up to me and said "Wow hun, you weren't kidding. They're really awesome!". E-Turn was particularly inspiring for my friend's 6 year-old daughter, her eyes were locked onto E-Turn as she listened intently for the entire set. After their set finished she sat on the steps of the ship with E-Turn in what appeared to be a serious conversation (my friend and I had watched in laughter and speculated what they could be talking about)...turns out she had some serious reporting, "interviewing" E Turn with questions about how and when she started rapping/singing/writing, and then asked for a chance to sing a song on stage. Nothing cooler than seeing a young child being inspired by good music and dope artistry.
DJ SPS stayed on the ship and spun some classics for the rest of the evening while everyone hung out enjoying food & drinks, chatting, and buying up the merch table. One of the greatest parts of the night was seeing my Dad & Uncle Bob watching in amazement as SPS worked his magic on the turntables, giving each other the nod of approval and the "did you hear that" elbow jab with huge grins on their faces (they are not easily impressed, especially when it comes to music! 2 most legit cosigns you can get!).
This night was truely what hip hop is about...good vibes, good music, and being with the "extended fam". We hear people complain about the state of hip hop. Unfortuntely we've included so many "middle men" in the music industry that sometimes live events and shows are so busy and distracting we forget about what we're there for...the music. Think about the last hip hop show you went to: it was most likely at a club/bar/concert venue, probably served alcohol, and was probably 18+ or 21+. Now, the big commercial radio/major label artists are the ones with shows at stadiums, with all ages shows. We don't let the kids into this hip hop "community" then complain when they're not interested in it. I hope the home concert thing is a trend that grows more and more, because it was such an awesome opportunity to really get back to the music. A big shout out to E Turn, DJ SPS, and Madd Illz for continually thinking outside of the box and taking the risk to do this tour; most importantly thank you for sharing some wonderful music with our extended fam!
Oh yeah, and by the way.....E-Turn & SPS and Mad Illz have new albums out. So go click on these links and buy them!