Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ciao Brachos

The remains of the days, or rather the remaining day, sit perched on a balcony atop the valley in Barrandorv. The last two weeks have been perpetual motion; from the day I arrived back in Prague from London, the speed of life has been in overdrive. The arrival of the Brooklyn massive brought a serious case of energitis, to borrow a word from Tah Phrum Duh Bush. It all climaxed yesterday with the epic "Hob-n-Nob" release event, which began on the Prague subway, blossomed at the Archa Theater, and wound down at Pantheon. It was an unparalleled experience for me (and for most of the participants and the crowd I think) in terms of the artistic diversity, international flavor, pure talent and sheer enormity.

Friday night last, Dowis, Kid Lucky and myself rolled to Czeske Budejovice for a show at Marty's Bar. We left Prague immediately after another appearance on Beat Case with Ghonza and drove 200km, arriving at the spot right at midnight. Suffice it to say, it was jumping. 200+ heads packing the spot out, and a variety of Czech rap groups and DJs killed it. Kid and I rocked a full-blast 90 minute set, with some guest spots from the ill ensemble of Czech MCs in the house. I did triple duty on the mic, beatbox and the decks, and we took turns as frontman. The crowd was peppered with heads who were familiar with Beat Apetit, "Just What to Do," Nocs'Andel, 5th Element and Ocko TV, and Hip Hop Kemp. I opened my set with "The Better Bomb" and cats in the front completely knew it from drop. The Budejovice Hip Hop community showed us much love, copped CDs and rocked out the set. I jumped down into the middle of the crowd for a part b-boy/part mc rendition of "Believe it or Not" and got some of the "Budweiser Boys" B-Boy crew to get down. Ridiculous.

So, while all was good on the stage and in the crowd, the hostile iron was sitting on the coals. Over the course of the night, we saw 3 different fights; from what I gathered, it was all graffiti-related beef. By the close of the show, I felt like half the people I was talking to were covered in blood! No joke. I watched one of the DJs walk from behind the turntables and plant his foot in some dude's face at the front of the stage. While backstage there was an out-of-nowhere-blindside KO, and another late-night melee outside. But the craziest shit must've been the waaaaaasted drunkard who, while blindly stumbling for the bathroom, stopped short, opened his pants and damn near pissed on Kid's back! Unbelievable. But somehow, all the madness fit perfectly into the energy of the night, which was extremely high. We killed it, chilled for a minute, and eventually left for Prague at 4:00am. I was zonked for the ride home, which found me back at Casa Nasty at 6:00am. A few hours sleep before the Nasty alarm clock woke me up for the Hob-n-Nob extravaganza, beginning with soundcheck at 11:00am…

11:00am call time found its way to 12:30pm reality. The Archa Theater is the most incredible performance space I have ever seen. I knew this last year for Beat Apetit, and had it confirmed this time around. Mechanized stage, insane sound and lights, wireless mics galore, a sliding catwalk, and most importantly, a hyper-talented staff of stage craftsmen and women, sound/light engineers and stage managers. To witness a show of this magnitude and grand vision materialize is fascinating. But waiting around for it to actually get rolling was exhausting☺

Functioning on 5 ½ hours of sleep and a Jim Beamed brain, we ran the tech rehearsal and wrapped up just in time to make the Subway Series at Namesti Republiky at 5:00pm. It was a pretty surreal scene: the core of the NYC Subway Series transplanted to Prague, accompanied by Czech beatboxers ranging in age from 11 to 27, the incredible vocals of Charli One, Carli Jefferson on tap, and a carload of confused and excited Praguers. The series was necessarily brief, as we needed to get back to Archa to get ready to start.

I was on double duty for the show, as both emcee and deejay for the NYC cats. We set it off with a "Prague vs. NYC Poetry Slam." Everyone did an acapella piece, EnDru rocked the looper, and Dyalekt wrapped it up with an abridged version of his one-man Hip Hop play, "The Sqaure Peg Syndrome." Tah nearly lost his shirt during a steamy poetry rendition of "Touching Myself Touching You." Sizzle. Freaky Jezus and Nasty both did some amazing beatbox standup comedy. All those crazy sound effects put into narrative hilarity. But the highlight of this whole segment must've the Czech beatbox young guns, Misha and Adrian, killing it. These kids are 12 years old, and nothing short of prodigal. It is so riveting to see them rock, and so inspiring to see the way that Jaro and Ivanhoe have taken them under their wings. They are in good hands for sure. I know they were loving the experience of hanging with all the heads, but truthfully, they stole the show before it even got going. Magic.

Then the Beatburger Band tore shit up. Beatburger is the official ensemble of the dopest beatboxers in Czech: Jaro, Nasty, Ivanhoe, EnDru, Johnny Typek, with special guests. Their human rendition of "I Like to Move It Move It" is quintessential Euro-box, but is a fucking crowd rocker. People were losing their minds. A most excellent showcase.

It was onto the Hob-n-Nob release set. It commenced with two video clips expertly edited by Nasty, whose Final Cut skills are right on par with his beatbox. The highlight reel of the beatbox expedition segued into the video for "Beatbionic," performed on video by Baba and then finished off live by Core Rhythm. Core then went into "Glide" from "Ronin" and got the crowd amped. Dyalekt then came out to drop "The Knock," then my favorite joint from "Sqaure Peg," "Spectacular Failure." Perfect sing-a-long hook.
Carli followed with "Hope and Custard," then joined Tah for a verrrry theatrical rendering of "Tag Team Torture," in lieu of Demo G. Tah and Carli got two volunteers from the crowd and literally tied them up on stage. Tah then dropped his new "Semi-Reserved Closet Maniac" before finishing it off with "Lay That Pipe." For the finale, Tah, Hired Gun and Kid Lucky triangulated the patented one-armed floor hump. Poetry.

I then stepped from behind the decks to grab the mic. We first dropped "Just What To Do" from "Beat Apetit," then "The Better Bomb." The crowd response to both of these joints was really positive and made me feel like heads knew both of these joints a bit. Farbeon came on for "Open School," rocked some solo joints, followed by Hired Gun rocking "Gone is the Thrill" and "Dedication" from "The People's Verses." We then get busy as 3rd Party large with "Best Minds" and "Time Travellin." It was completely natural and totally unbelievable to be rocking with the whole group on foreign turf. But most of all, magnificent.

The show closed with the epic posse cut "Milki Way" featuring Dyalekt, Farbeon (in lieu of CONCEPT), myself, Tah, Ivanhoe and songstress Charli One. This was followed by the official CD birthday, which consists of pouring an entire bottle of liquor (Jim Beam, as a nod to the sponsors) on a copy of the album. We also did it retroactively for "BTBB."

Last but not least, we had a massive Nu Voices International Human Symphony, conducted by Kid Lucky and featuring all the performers. Brainsplode. This evolved into a monster cypher that included Hired Gun and myself getting all Red and Meth and climbing to the top of the speakers. And of course, on to Pantheon for the afterparty till 6:00am, where I got to spin classics for the energized post-show crowd. The Pete Rock Remix of "Jump Around" is a timeless global banger.

So there's the slightly delayed look back at the last 48 hours of performing in Europe. The following day was a chilled out deep breath; caught Dowis lacing a burner, BBQ'd for the crew at Nasty's, packed, slept for 3 hours, rolled to the airport and made the extensive (and once again, costly discount airline) trip from Prague to London Stansted, then to Heathrow, then to JFK. A cool 19 hours later I was back in Brooklyn, zipping along the Belt Parkway back to Park Slope. Back at home, recalculating, configuring, adjusting, sleeping, unpacking (sloooowly), gearing up for the teaching and DJ hustle and push the album domestically hardcore. Good thing it is still 70 degrees in New York. Chilly weather might have completely crippled my withered body.

There is a blog of reflections to come, along with some other bits and bundles of great news. The best news is that the Czechs are coming back to BK this Friday! We will ba having a "Hob-n-Nob" NYC Release Party on 10.10 @ Asteriks in Bushwick. Jeah. It was a relief to not have to say goodbye to everyone all at once. It was tough enough to bid ciao to Nasty and his incredible family, without whom I'm not sure I would've made it through this trip. I am forever indebted to their hospitality and warmth. They opened up their house, conversations and refrigerator to me as if I was one of their own. Beautiful people. I can't wait to be your tour guide in NYC.

Okay, so I'll save the emotional closure for the final blog entry, which appropriately enough, will be written from the vantage point of home. Special shouts out to Mareka, Lokey and Maria, three wonderful folks who cosmically came together for the release party to document and enhance. And big ups to BeeLow from for making the trip to Praha from Berlin!

This photo collage by Lokey ( pretty much sums up the vibe and energy of the event, and the trip for that matter. Dig this: