Sold out show at The Fixin To over the weekend….blessed to roc with my brothers @rememberalwayz & @miccapes_music in St Johns where it all started and to be able to touch as many people as we have in the time that we have. Love to sis @giftedgab for coming through and shutting it down and to everybody that experienced this night with us, until next time. #FortySix #AnimalFarm #VLR #FRSHTRB
This past Friday, four local rappers put on a rap show at the Fixin’ To. The venue describes itself as a “southern-inspired honky tonk” bar, equipped to host live shows. The space was intimate. The stage- placed in the corner- was a few feet away from the venue entrance, antlers decorated the walls above, mini light bulbs rested on top of the antlers, red drapes covered the windows, and four moderate-sized area rugs covered the stage floor.
The show was advertised as “The Fantastic Four”. The rappers: Gifted Gab, Glenn Waco, Rasheed Jamal, and Mic Capes were headlining the show. It made me think; since the show was named after The Fantastic Four, which rapper is which Fantastic Four superhero?
Gifted Gab – The Invisible Woman
Seattle native Gifted Gab’s raps aged like wine over time. She is a prime example of Sue Storm’s ability of invisibility. Gab gained attention with a song she collaborated on with California rapper, Blimes Brixton, called “Come Correct”. The success of the song has the Central District lyricist on press runs and shows in different regions of the country. What’s frustrating is that Gab has been delivering top notch wordplay and rhyme schemes for some time. “Come Correct” was just the song the rest of the world decided to listen to. She was invisible until now.
The laid back lyricist played one of her most recent songs, “PSA (Unmastered)”. The song is an ode to fake smokers, men, women, and how she will not continue to give her time to those type of energy leeches. The flow and syncopation Gab brings to her music is astounding. She weaved her punches and double entendres in and out of jazz infused production, like it’s second nature to her. With the buzz she’s receiving now, Gifted Gab won’t be Sue Storm much longer.
Glenn Waco – Mr. Fantastic
Taking the stage next, North Portland rapper Glenn Waco took a knee. He erupted in energy as the beat reached its crescendo. His music is loud and in your face. The message is even louder. His now six-foot-plus frame towered over the crowd as they swayed left to right. Glenn is lanky, like Reed Richards. He is apart of a collective with Mic Capes and Rasheed Jamal called The Resistance. The camo jacket Waco wore teased his personality. He warred with social injustice the last couple of years as an activist. The music he makes extends his reach (also like Mr. Fantastic) to a demographic that can help him spread the message of equality and shine a light on inequalities as well.
During his set, Waco stopped and told the crowd of Quanice Hayes, a 17 year old African American child executed a year ago by Portland police officer Andrew Hearst. He brought family members of Hayes to the show, informing the crowd of their fight and how it was not over (SN:There is a GoFundMe page up for the family as they continue to pursue legal action against this atrocity).
Waco ended his set with “Assata”, a song named after former Black Liberation Army member, Assata Shakur. The most memorable moment from Waco’s set came in the form of a quote he gave the crowd:
“If you’re a human being, then you have a right to exist. We all on the same slave ship, just different decks.”
Rasheed Jamal- The Human Torch
Rasheed Jamal approached the stage like he approaches his music, composed with vigor, and stamina for days. Originally from Chattanooga Park, a small town in Arkansas, everything about Rasheed Jamal screamed southerner. The twang in his voice is distinct. You could pick it out of a lineup blindfolded. His Cash Money tour tee was engulfed in flames, like any Cash Money tour tee from the late 90’s and 00’s. He even played UGK cuts before he got on stage. On the backdoor of the venue, next to a vending machine that dispenses earplugs and cigarettes, a wooden Arkansas Razorbacks plaque hung on the door. If anything, the Portland based MC was given a sense of home as he played “Chattanooga Park.” Sheed’s rhyme scheme chops and flows with his beat selection. His raps were fast, melodic, and all consuming, similar to fire. Like Johnny Storm, Sheed torches his tracks, leaving a trail of fire behind him.
Sheed has built an impressive catalog so far in his career. His last projects, Sanfoka and Indigo Child ( U Ain’t the Only 1!), cemented his lyrical prowess. Over time, Sheed grew comfortable with his identity as an artist. He fought Outkast comparisons and “doing too much”, but he’s much more than those labels. Sheed is an accumulation of his southern roots and his new home in Portland (He’s been in Portland since 2008). He stayed true to what influenced him while allowing himself to develop. Sheed is a bit of a jokester as well. Also like the Human Torch, Sheed’s jovial nature leaves a lasting impression on the crowd. It won’t be long until you hear Rasheed Jamal’s name again.
Mic Capes – The Thing
The last performer of the night, Mic Capes, pulled double duty as a headliner and as a host for the show. I’ve watched Capes perform for a couple of years. Over that time, I have seen him grow with his music, as well as his performances. They have become cleaner and he knows how to interact with different crowds. I will never forget the first time I saw Capes perform. It was 2016 . He was doing a set at the Analog Theater. Capes’ sound is content-heavy and chock full of powerful stories, but the crowd he was performing for that night, did not have ears for the type of message he was trying to deliver. He didn’t get booed off stage or anything, but he didn’t receive the attention I thought he deserved. Regardless, the rapper’s skin was rock solid, much like The Thing. That night, I saw in Mic Capes what others didn’t see: Determination and hunger. Fast forward to 2018 and the same rapper I saw at the Analog, was the same rapper ready to clobber the stage at the Fixin’ To, just more polished.
Capes has been through his fair share of adversity. His music gives you that much. He stayed consistent through time, continued to put out quality music, and the city of Portland responded in kind. Capes’ music carries a strong message for the children. The rapper worked with kids in auxiliary programs a great deal, so naturally his music has content with the youth in mind. Donning a red St. Johns basketball jersey, the stage man lowered the lights to match his attire as “Chains” played’. Capes continued to move the crowd with classics like “No More” and “I might”, a song of his most recent project, Sheesh. A Mic Capes show wouldn’t be the same if the rapper didn’t leave the crowd with at least one performance of the North Portland anthem, “Jumper Cables.”
All of the rappers that headlined the show have played important roles in each other’s music careers. Each artist had songs together on their respective projects. Their unwavering support of each other was beautiful. From Glenn Waco going live on social media during the performances of his fellow Resistance members, to folks in the crowd making sure Gifted Gab stayed hydrated during her set, the phrase “Teamwork makes the dream work” echoed the sentiments of community. These rappers made a good team. One thing is for sure, these local rappers will not stay local rappers for long.