Providence hip-hop ain’t what you think it is. Unless you think it’s exhilarating, kickass, and relentlessly literate. Then, of course, you’d be right. Anchored by the talented posse Poorly Drawn People and flanked by the growing stable at Strange Famous Records, home of the heroic Sage Francis, the hip-hop scene is happening in what seems like a bigger way every day in these parts. There’s a significant movement, a communal strength in numbers, and solidification of an artistic aesthetic. Things are happening. You just have to hear it.
You can start with Prolyphic and Reanimator’s new album, The Ugly Truth. It’s a blissed-out merger of Prolyphic’s smart rap/poetry and Reanimator’s perfectly complementary beats and motifs. On “Artist Goes Pop,” the voice, amid a backdrop of keys and drums, talks about what it’s like onstage: “I stand in position and abandon inhibitions, start dancing for the critics with the camera as my witness/Watch close, cuz in a minute pop goes . . . my heart explodes into a thousand downloads.”
The Northeast hip-hop scene might not be the ideal place to perpetrate rhymes, but Prolyphic and the crew constantly defend their right to stay at home. On “Survived Another Winter,” he and friends Sage Francis, B. Dolan, and Alias rap about resisting the ride West (“I see their bandwagon passing me by while I was dragging my boycott.”) On “The Ugly Truth,” Prolyphic expands on his choice to remain local: “It’s like I roll this stone and I don’t complain/’Cuz this is what I chose, got no one else to blame/Except myself, for putting my life on the line, and soul on the shelf/I’ll take it to the grave ’cuz I show no tells.” Reanimator’s backing tracks are unpredictable and sweet, smooth and emphatic, without disrupting the flow. Preview it at: myspace.com/prolyphicandreanimator or myspace.com/prolyphic.
Prolyphic will be at Lupo’s on Sunday, May 11 with KRS-One, B. Dolan, and Sage Francis. Call 401.331.5876.
The folks at the Peeptoad Coffeehouse have worked tirelessly to assemble the RHODE ISLAND FOLK FESTIVAL, an annual celebration of traditional music and dance to be held this weekend at the North Foster Baptist Church. There will be performances by Jerimoth Hill (Aubrey Atwater, Elwood Donnelly, Cathy Clasper-Torch, John and Heidi Cerrigione, and Uriah Donnelly), Blue Around the Edges (Dianna Tetreau and Carol Campbell), and Paul Dube, plus guest dance caller and clogger Chris Bischoff from Louisville. Workshops led by those folks include clogging, tap dancing, gospel singing, blue-grass harmony, documentary filmmaking, and other intriguing stuff. It all sounds pretty loosey-goosey, and very enjoyable. Food’s available too. You can register online, by calling 401.392.1322, or pay at the door, which opens on the early side at 9 am.
Bringing it all back home
BILL BARTHOLOMEW is an artist who has made a name for himself outside of the area. You may remember Bill from his work in Acid Rain Revival, which lasted five years or so at the start of this century. Bill also formed the Commas in ’04, and he moved with that band to Brooklyn, where they released an EP and gained attention in Williamsburg. But last year the Commas disbanded and Bill started working on his own. He will be returning from his new home of Brooklyn to say hello to old friends and celebrate the release of his new EP, World On a Wire, his solo debut, this Friday (the 9th) at the Shorebreak in Narragansett. He’ll be accompanied by fellow Brooklynite band Kate Starr. Come on down, renew acquaintances with Bill, and meet his new band. Call 401.783.1022.
At the Living Room on Friday, THE JESSE MINUTE and ANOTHER OPTION add local flavor to a bill that includes THE BAY STATE (Boston), NAKATOMI PLAZA (Brooklyn), and BROOKSIDE (Long Island). Call 401.521.5200.There’s another sweet local bill at the Blackstone in Pawtucket on Friday, anchored by THE RADIONICS, THE COLD WAR, and BMP winnahs PENROSE and SENIOR DISCOUNT. The show is 21+ and doors open at 8 pm. Call 401.726.2181. Also on Friday, THE BLACKJAXS featuring Tom Ferraro hit the Indian Lounge in Pawtucket beginning at 9 pm. Call 401.475.3335.