If ever I discuss skateboarding videos, I undoubtedly reference Shorty’s 1998 gem, Fulfill the Dream. Not only was the piece iconic for the skateboarders (notably, Chad Muska and Peter Smolik), but also for the soundtrack, a selection of songs so slick that many are permanent fixtures in my iTunes library.
So I was stoked when I heard that The Beatnuts, a New York-based hip-hop group featured on the soundtrack, were on a 20th Anniversary Tour with a date in Vancouver. After all, who could forget Sammy Baptista skating to their jam Off the Books? (Admittedly, many people could, just not this nostalgic gal.)
I’ve been to enough hip-hop shows to know how they work: one or two opening acts, punctuated with danceable DJ sets, ending with the artists plugging their latest albums or alluding to future projects. The Beatnuts show on March 8 at Fortune Sound Club followed suit. (For the record, Fortune has an incredible Funktion-One Soundsystem, making it a choice venue for live shows.) The crowd was enthusiastic, the song set was solid and overall I had a great time.
There was, however, one aspect of the show that especially pleased my hip-hop-loving heart: Vancouver emcee Emotionz, an opener. Emotionz, or David Nelson as he is legally known, looks more suited to accounting than he does the world of rap. Skinny, white and wearing glasses, he challenges many of the prevailing stereotypes associated with the musical genre.
I first heard Emotionz in 2003 as part of the Vancouver hip-hop group Fourth World Occupants. His unique voice, quick flow and distinct style resonated with me, solidifying his spot as one of my favourite obscure rappers.
My boundless enthusiasm for him did not translate to the friends that accompanied me to the show, however, with my incessant proclamation of his talent drawing eye rolls from my comrades. Despite this skepticism, his short set was the highlight of my night, complete with a beatbox freestyle that lasted nearly four minutes.
Seeing Emotionz live rekindled my appreciation for his art. His brand of hip-hop won’t appeal to everyone, but what he does, he does well, and I respect that. Plus bonus points for representing the west coast!
Postscript: In the vein of anniversaries, The Notorious B.I.G. passed away 13 years ago March 9. RIP, Big Poppa.