Those of you following along (and good on ya!) will know that I was recently counting down to Doomtree. The funny thing that I didn’t mention, was that I had no idea what to expect. I’d never been to a hip-hop show, let alone an indie rap show, and I was as eager to hear it live as I was looking forward to seeing who else in town shares my tastes (mostly guys in plaid/hoodies, ball caps and sneakers, actually, interspersed with casually chic chickies not in sneakers. It felt like every buddy’s basement, which is pretty great, in my books).
When people think of rap artists, I don’t think the first things that come to their minds are intelligent, charismatic, smiling, eloquent, and approachable people, and I really wish it was. I fear it says far more about who we as consumers choose to make famous, rather than the available talent. As much as I’m thrilled to bits that I was able to catch Doomtree for 14.50$ in a cozy venue and that I could, and did pat performers on backs, shake hands, and get to look artists in the eye to say, “Hey man, great show”, I wish that we’d sold out the Bell Centre for them so they could profit from both the dollars and the notoriety they deserve. These are craftsmen, with honed skills, who’ve been perfecting their collective magic for ten years, and they totally delivered.
I’ve been hearing for awhile how our fair city, renowned for music and art, has a glaring lack of a hiphop scene, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. Maybe it’s because we think hiphop begins and ends with the likes of Nikki Minaj, and Kanye West. Maybe we’ve been lulled into low expectations by lyrics that tell us to “drop down on the floor and assume the fucking position / do something strange for a little piece of change” (really, Ludacris?) that we don’t realize that Cecil Otter is rapping about how he “didn’t come to put your fire out / I don’t fear your flames”, and Dessa’s managing to slip both Path and Poe into one catchy chorus.
Once you know how good it can be, you can’t go back.
P.O.S. told the audience to get closer, louder, move more, sweat more, and yes, we need to get more excited if we want to incubate a scene instead of just complaining about it. By the end of the show though, everyone was smiling, buzzing around the group as they stepped boldly off the stage and into a friendly bunch of fans. No hipster head bobs, just genuine appreciation flowing both ways.
I wish I’d picked up every cd they had on offer, and I would have loved to walk out with an armload of t-shirts, but crucial decisions had to be made, and I’m happily rocking my Dessa tee all over town, telling everyone what they’ve been missing. Because the truth of supply and demand is that if we all start supporting acts like Doomtree, Atmosphere, and Sage Francis instead of, I don’t know, that Chris Brown kid, a lot of inspired performers could come out of the wood work and into their deserved spotlights, and we wouldn’t roll our eyes every time we scan the radio dials.