MC Braille at the Undergroundhiphop.Com Store, May 11, 2008
BELIEVER: Braille’s tracks may be spiritually enhanced, but they cater to hip-hop heads,
not Bible Belters.
Every rapper claims he kicks the same live show for one person that he does for 1000 — and until five minutes before his performance at the UndergroundHipHop.com retail store on Huntington Avenue last week, it appeared that Portland (Oregon) MC Braille would have to make good on that. Not that he was bothered. Before additional heads arrived, he told his single fan, “If this is the case, then I’ll rock just for you.”
And then there were 10. Add in myself, the UGHH staff, and the either drunk or chemically scrambled chick in a rayon dress and fishnet stockings who was maniacally dancing and Braille had enough of an audience to introduce his faith-based rap initiative to the East Coast.
The set began with some hyper-nimble a cappella verses, which he chased with the West Coastal “Submission Hold” and a punch-line-stuffed freestyle. For “Remember Your Path,” he brought the metaphor full circle by detouring through Gang Starr and Black Star beats before returning to the track. Two Northeastern students who wandered in were stunned; both wound up buying copies of his new The IV Edition (it’s pronounced “eye-vee”).
Even those of us who expected to be turned off by Braille’s turn-the-other-cheekiness were wowed — they might be spiritually enhanced, but standout cuts like “Blessed Man” and the Marco-Polo-produced “The IV” cater to hip-hop heads, not Bible Belters. Plus, according to resident UGHH jester Van Stylez, Braille is the first MC ever to rhyme a whole verse while hopping on one foot.
The set was a rare rap experience, and not just because Braille is a pacifist who looks like the soul child of Prefuse 73 and a Duke lacrosse player. At more than 30 minutes, it might have been the longest in-store in hip-hop history. “I know I was just supposed to get up here, do a few songs, and maybe freestyle,” he said, “but peace to UGHH CEO Quest for letting me do the best I can do with the resources that I have.” And when Braille says, “peace,” he means it.
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