Boston’s Winter Hip-Hop Fest
Although it would have been easy to book local heavyweights like Slaine and Dre Robinson to take the stage with Lawrence hip-hop hustler Termanology for this year’s Winter Hip-Hop Fest at the Middle East downstairs last Saturday, promoter Edu Leedz decided to try something a little bit different, putting together a bill of some of Boston’s hungriest artists. It made for an intriguing night of hip-hop from some unexpected sources, artists like AWOL, Brix, Insight, Elemental Zazen, Letia Larok, D-Tension, and JDO.
D-Tension and Effect
The crowd started out noticeably listless, but Brix, performing her first set after medical complications had her off the circuit for almost a year, fixed that with crisp and gritty beats that had everyone’s threes in the air. The single mother said she’d only recently got back her ability to speak. “This is all I have. Hip-hop doesn’t give you insurance.” She brought Gen.Steel, Gillitine, Nfeeze, Golden Child, and E-Blood of the INF camp on stage for “Who Did It,” a song written for the event and produced by Gillitine that established INF as up-and comers. “There was a lot of energy when we were on stage,” Gillitine said with unintentional understatement. D-Tension and Effect brought it back to the old school with their Christmas-themed party anthem “The Feast of Steven.” After Term finished up his golden-era set, the crowd thinned out before headliner Insight could take the stage. It didn’t seem to fase the slick Tribe-Called-Quest-meets-Talib-Kweli-style wordsmith, who smiled infectiously throughout his set. His machine-gun-quick lyrics captivated the 20 or so fans who stayed, and he performed most of his set while in the audience shaking hands, all while his own beats thumped in the background. From time to time he went back on stage to turn on vocal effects and mash the keys of his beatbox. Finally he handed everyone a small styrofoam cup, poured out some juice, raised the sweet concoction toward the Middle East ceiling, and, while rapping, saluted the fans who’d stuck around.
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