Monday, August 16, 2004

Hip-hop world congregates for battles and camaraderie

Scribble Jam
By C.E. Hanifin
Enquirer staff writer

With thousands of fans, performers and vendors from all over the globe crammed into Annie's on Friday and Saturday, Scribble Jam felt like an impromptu village square erected by an international community of hip-hop devotees.

The pungent scents of beer, grilled food and the aerosol paint wielded by graffiti artists permeated the air. Indie musicians and record label owners hawked their own CDs, hoodies and other wares. And whomping bass reverberated through the soles of the crowd.

For nine years, hip-hoppers have converged at the festival to catch performances by underground acts. This year's bill included the Living Legends from Los Angeles, Minneapolis rapper Brother Ali and local favorite DJ DQ's group, Glue.

The Scribble Jam events most responsible for accelerating the pulses of those in the mellow crowd this weekend, though, were the battles. DJs, MCs, breakdancers and practitioners of the human beatbox duked it out for dominance during two days of ferocious competition.

Here are some highlights from the battles royale and the other Scribble Jam festivities:

Old school vs. new school: As part of his bid to win the DJ battle finals on Saturday, DJ Brace spun a snippet of OutKast's ubiquitous radio hit "Hey Ya!" His opponent, Skratch Bastid, grabbed the spotlight with Parliament's funkadelic classic "Flash Light," then segued into Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

O, Canada: Hollering good-natured epithets during each onstage showdown was de rigueur for the crowd. But they honored the DJ battle's victor for the second year in a row, Skratch Bastid from Nova Scotia, with a different sort of exclamation - cries of "Eh!" (Could Canada be the new Compton? Brace hails from Winnepeg.)

War and peace: During Saturday's fierce b-boy finals, the two competing crews of breakdancers, Motion Disorders from Milwaukee and Chicago's Style Rebels, got in each other's faces, shouted jeers and, at one point, started pushing and shoving. The moment the music stopped, though, the rivals shook hands and hugged. The goodwill even survived through the announcement that Motion Disorders had taken the prize for a fourth year.

Getting it off their chests: The most cantankerous T-shirt slogan was "Hip Hop Sucks Because Of You!," available in burgundy, khaki and black - XXL, of course. The most amicable greeting? A baby T inscribed with "I know you got soul.," worn by Michelle Lukmani, 21, who drove from Fort Wayne, Ind., to attend her first Scribble Jam with her boyfriend Yox Villavicencio, 23, a veteran of the b-boy competition.

Worth the drive: Black Pegasus' trip to Scribble Jam, like many festivalgoers, entailed a really long car ride. The MC (whose birth name is Robert Houston II) and three of his buddies packed into a Grand Prix for an 18-hour haul from Colorado Springs, Colo.

Black Pegasus, who took second place in last year's MC competition, came out this time just to network and promote his upcoming solo album. He says his appearance last year amped up the buzz about his music.

"I gotta give a lot of love to the city of Cincinnati for holding this battle," he says. "It's a great thing for artists who are underground and independent."
And many more: As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning, Scribble Jam co-founder "Fat" Nick Accurso celebrated his 30th birthday on stage at the festival he helped nurture as it grew from 50 people in a parking lot to an internationally known event.
Taken from the Cinncinatti Inquirer

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