At The THESIS we support all types of hip-hop, and gangsta rap is no exception. Sometimes we call them “urban” or “street” when we don’t want to bring attention to the rappers the square world might consider “gangsta,” a term that honestly sounds ridiculous here in 2016, but everyone knows what we mean.
My little brother Hanif and I have an interesting habit of dropping uncomfortable ideas on one another and leaving the other to think about it and embrace that idea on our own; I call it planting seeds. He once told me, during a debate, that gangsta rap is conscious rap. The idea was so preposterous that I literally ignored it, but the more I thought about it later, the more the statement made sense.
Think about it. When someone tells of their experience living a lifestyle dissimilar to yours in a manner that puts you in their shoes, allowing you to not just understand but actually come to the same logical conclusions given the constrictions hindering and opportunities presented to the storyteller, that’s allowing you to experience their consciousness. When a rapper can take you through their world, authentically, and show you the pitfalls and dangers of their worlds, that’s conscious rap in a nutshell. And who better to lead that quest than those from the darkest corners?
Enter our headliners for Thursday’s event. Famed NE Portland conscious rappers Mikey Vegaz and FliBoiMoe top the diverse and edgy bill, joining electro-bass rapper Raquel Divar, plus frenetic swag-surfer Lang and Rare Vibes DJ, Drae Slapz, for a night of fun at Kelly’s Olympian in downtown Portland with The Official DJ of TheTHESIS, Verbz.
A rare talent with a distinct voice and concrete flow, Mikey Vegaz is a Portland rap staple. From his Definition Of Fli mixtape series in the late 2000’s to Gold Kilos In The Trap, Confessions Of A Hustler and Rick Kulture to his current Oregoons mixtape series with long-time tag-team partner, FliBoiMoe (who has a legit rap career of his own), the self-proclaimed Prince of the City has been keeping the streets hot. Perhaps no street was made hotter than SE Belmont a few years ago when police blanketed a super-lit rap show at the Blue Monk allegedly looking for the Pyrex Media mogul, but those days are far behind us and ain’t nobody stopping my show.
Really no slouch with the visuals, Mikey has a number of notable videos, including his super-clean June visual for 100 Bands and the hood classic, Gods Be Gods, but I have to leave you with the inspirational Confessions Of A Hustler.
Raquel Divar may not be a household name to PDX rap fans yet, but just you wait. The unassuming SF transplant can really rhyme, and has a penchant for dark-themed, electronic, bass-heavy music. The little Latina impressed me performing a surprise set at the all-female We Take Holocene 3 event last Spring with her big, steady, confident voice, and I’m super excited to include her on the September show as I think she brings something new to our fans. Her album, Midnight Mob, was released by San Fran indie-label MalLabel, and the curious rap artist has continued to work, dropping a couple of really cool collaborative efforts on her Soundcloud page.
Last but not least, Seattle native Lang has been growing a name for himself in the Portland scene with energetic performances, melodic double-timed rhyme schemes, foolish adlibs, and a great support system in the Rare Vibes crew, led by one of the town’s best producers, Drae Slapz. Some of you might recall that the two crashed the last Thesis for a couple songs, upping the energy in the building by a megawatt or two and leaving the crowd asking for more as they rushed off the stage to make way for Theory Hazit. This time around they’ll have time to give us the full set, and I can guarantee it’s about to be LIVE.
His favorite song of mine is Memoirs Of The Night Shift, but the dynamic MC just dropped a new slap, Wavy, today with popular PDX producer Bravo Domo today, so be sure to check it out below.
Once again, we at We Out Here Magazine want to thank XRAY.FM for their support, as well as the good folks at Vortex Magazine for helping us make this concert series a thing. Huge personal thank yous to Blake Hickman, Verbz, Alexander Wright, Max McHugh, Renee Lopez and Jennifer Moore (aka The THESIS crew) for making this the best monthly rap series in Portland. I can’t stress enough how this project is just a natural extension of the community we’re creating, and this would not succeed without YOU.
It’s truly great to have an affordable, locally-focused rap show free from corporate control where we can do what we want and prove month after month that we belong at the big table, and I don’t take that for granted. Regardless of sub-genre, we’ll continue to showcase the regions hottest artists alongside the most promising, building the rap community one set at a time.
In case you don’t know, the show starts at 9pm and it packs out fast, so show up early or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP for yourself and your friends. Can’t wait to see your faces. #OutHere