Anonamys hit the stage with a sartorial statement that only a rapper can make—lime green blazer, no shirt, dangling bling apparently equipped with some kind of lighting system.
Underground and Independent Hip Hop Festival, featuring Ghetti, Anonamys, Ohmega Men, Echo Boomers, Kaze and Beetnix
Starr Hill Music Hall
Thursday, June 1
“Commercial rap sucks!” declared Charlottesville’s 16-year-old rap phenom Ghetti, who kicked off last week’s underground hip-hop showcase at Starr Hill. The sentiment resonated all night as some of Virginia’s best hip-hop groups toasted the art of independent rap.
To clarify, “commercial” rap includes all those generic “gangsta” jams heard on radio or seen on MTV, while “underground” rap is, well… everything else. Here in the hip-hop backwater of Charlottesville, anyone who picks up a microphone is, by definition, underground. Yet the talent on display Thursday night showed that Charlottesville can hold its own in the rap game, if anyone cares to listen.
Ghetti kicked off the show with tracks from his EP, The Beginning, as well as songs from an upcoming album produced at the Music Resource Center with Beetnix MC Damani Harrison. Characteristic of underground hip-hop’s eclectic musical palette, Ghetti’s tunes incorporate samples from the likes of Nirvana and Radiohead, driven by intense beats and sheets of intricate, insightful and unpretentious rhymes. Ghetti has already ruled the high school talent show scene and looks ready to step into the clubs.
Another Charlottesvillian, Anonamys, hit the stage with a sartorial statement that only a rapper can make—lime green blazer, no shirt, dangling bling apparently equipped with some kind of lighting system. We may see more of Anonamys this fall when his debut album, The Interview, is scheduled for release. Fellow Virginia rappers Ohmega Men and Echoboomers, along with Kaze from the Raleigh-Durham area, also performed, interspersed by DJ dance mixes and some jaw-dropping breakdancing from one acrobatic B-girl.
Charlottesville’s underground rap scene revolves around the Beetnix, who headlined the show with tracks from their new EP, Professional Thieves Vol. 3: The Final Heist. Perhaps the only hip-hop band that lists both Tool and Gang Starr as influences, Beetnix includes a guitar and violin to add tunefulness to their spine-tingling beats and the fluid raps of MCs Waterloo and Harrison (a.k.a. Glitch 1). Their shit is on par with anybody from the big city, and infinitely more worthwhile than the latest corporate gangsta hit—we’d love to see their steady stream of albums get the attention they deserve, and pull Charlottesville up from the rap underground.—John Borgmeyer
My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
Brian Eno/David Byrne
The detailed and expansive remastering of My Life reveals an album that neither exploits nor mocks its religious sources. Byrne and Eno were actually scientific researchers of the then-marginalized enthusiasts whose voices needed
an artistic context so that main-
stream skeptics could appreciate how the insistent rhythms of radio preachers were alluring undercurrents in their own lives.
Byrne and Eno never tell us whether this attraction is primal craziness or undeniable need. We must find our own answers among the layers of murky voices and jittery funk.—James Hopkins