Kyeyote, Doug Funnie, Meathead Wop
In an old-school rap song battle, I’m pretty sure there’s one tune that trumps them all. But I’m not going to tell you here. Just know that if you ever challenge me, my song’s eventually going to land on your head with both feet. You would have heard this charming ode (hinted at somewhere in this story) last Thursday at Lola’s –– for a few minutes, owner Brian Forella and I accidentally got into a friendly little battle, swapping songs behind the bar on his laptop/jukebox, and after weathering some Rakim, MC Lyte (!), and Radio-era LL, I had to pull out my trump card (a song, incidentally, slammed down unceremoniously on my noggin a few years ago in a battle with Forella’s brother Brendan).
The moral of the story is: We all got trumped that night. From the How in the World Does Shit Like This Happen Department: The Fort Worth Music Co-Op, the popular nonprofit musician-run booking agency, had scheduled a hip-hop show. But not just any hip-hop show. At this time I’d like to inform you that I was sharing a table with Rivercrest Yacht Club’s MC Generic, who, while maybe not as conversant in old-schoolage as Forella and me, is a professional freaking rapper. In other words, his opinion carries a lot of weight. The stage setup –– just a laptop on a high-top cocktail table –– did not seem very promising. But then the beats began to thrum, and onstage hopped a young, thin, New-York-Yankees-garbed black kid. He started spitting rhymes so fast and was articulating them so succinctly that you would have thought Rakim himself had grabbed the mic. Seriously, though, all hyperbole aside, the dude was insanely good and decidedly old school, spitting long, mercurial but clear, socially conscious lyrics, placing him somewhere between Rakim and El-P. Turns out Kyeyote is from Chicago’s infamous South Side but has been living in the 817 for several months. He was invited to perform by the evening’s ostensible headliner, Doug Funnie, a nerdcore artist from Euless who a couple of months ago opened for nerdcore star MC Frontalot at SXSW. (All I really know of Frontalot is his guest spot on MC Hawking’s “Bitchslap.” Two words: Heee. Larious.) A quick Google search on my spacephone revealed that Funnie is finishing up a new EP, Hardship to Triumph, and plays bass in and fronts The Morning Circuit, a hip-hop band slated to release an album in October. Too bad there weren’t more people at the show. Some bona fide Generic-approved hip-hop went down. Of course, any fantasies on your part that I’m actually down with the retro hip-hop scene will be shattered when I recreate for you one particularly embarrassing moment: Doug Funnie is onstage rapping (he’s also really good), and Kyeyote is standing down in front with several other fans, playing with his smartphone. Mr. Hip-Hop (me) goes over to Kyeyote and says, “C’mon, man. Your boy’s on.” To which the nice young rapper replies, “I know, but he asked me to get up there and rhyme with him, and I gotta write down what I’m gonna say.” So. Lola’s Rap Battle Finals: Young Black Rapper 100, Old Wannabe-Down Meathead Wop 0. So tell me, which one of us should get top billin’?
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