Hip-hop finally has a home. For the past few months, Lola’s Saloon has been hosting shows by some of the most progressive underground rappers and beatmakers in North Texas and beyond on Wednesday nights. Before Lola’s, hip-hoppers had been ghettoized to weird nights and even weirder locations all over the region. Lola’s, said Fort Worth beatmaker/producer 5pewcataclism, has been thankfully consistent. “The whole staff are some of the best in the industry,” he said. “For such a small place, they have the biggest view for providing the essential needs to an artist or band of multiple genres.”
5pew is also glad he doesn’t have to lug in his own equipment and run sound while he’s trying to perform. All of Lola’s sound-guys, he said, “know what they’re doing, especially Joe Easton, who does very well with hip-hop and knows how far he can push the [volume] without distorting it.”
Fancy furniture, 5pew said, means nothing: “I don’t want you sitting down anyway. It’s a show, so have fun, dance, and do what you like to your favorite act of the night.”
Aaron Knight, co-owner and co-founder of Ghostlight Concerts, talent buyer at Lola’s and a Fort Worth-based booking agency, said he felt hip-hop was being mistreated in town by being relegated to background noise. He invited some local hip-hop promoters to begin booking Wednesdays, and they “blew the roof off the place,” he said. “Great turnout, great music, great folks.”
Wednesday nights, 5pew said, have also been good for Fort Worth: “Out-of-town [acts] love the spot and ask to come back, which makes the city and the scene itself look good.”
Diversity is part of Lola’s mission, Knight said: “If Lola’s is to be the top venue in the city, then it needs to be the most inclusive as far as genres and fan bases.”
But what does having a home base mean for Fort Worth’s underground hip-hop scene?
“It helps a lot,” 5pew said. “Most artists that are coming up haven’t experienced the feel of a real show, and Lola’s is a good start. They’re as professional as the bigger venues, and providing an all-ages event is also a plus. Now the younger crowds can see what other types of hip-hop we have in the city.”
Maybe the success of Lola’s Wednesday nights has informed Saturday’s bill. Two popular Dallas rap acts, Buffalo Black and -topic will be joined by two Fort Worth cats, freestyle rapper extraordinaire Big Cliff Watkins and nerdcore stylist Doug Funnie, as part of the after-party for the big DFW NORML march downtown. Starting at noon at Mambo’s Tapas Cantina (1010 Houston St., 817-336-3124), the march is part of a global effort that began in 1999, and in addition to speakers the downtown event will feature performances by Spoonfed Tribe, The Effinays, The Boxer’s Brain, Shaka, and Panic Volcanic. There’s no admission fee, and if you go you can get into Lola’s (2736 W. 6th St., 817-877-0666) for free –– otherwise cover is $8.
I’ve smoked weed only about a dozen times in my life — it just never did anything particularly blissful for me. I’ll just stick to beer, thank ya very much, but I completely understand and support NORML’s efforts. Far too many people die every year as part of the drug war, and science has proven that pot is less harmful for us than a lot of legal drugs. Maybe NORML should just become a for-profit business that sells smoking accessories and start buying up football stadiums and putting out commercials lousy with scantily clad women. Maybe once Corporate America sees the massive amounts of money to be made off the grass, this ridiculous legalization battle will come to its inevitable end sooner rather than later. I’m willing to bet you can count on one hand the number of Fort Worth musicians who do not smoke cannabis. NORML and Fort Worth music just seem to go together.
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