Hip-Hop The Hard Way

The Press Project at Bill's Bar, August 29, 2008
By DAVID BOFFA  |  September 2, 2008


The Press Project, a hip-hop-tinged soul band from the New Hampshire coast, probably have the most notoriety among the jam scene: they’ve rocked Bonnaroo, and their MySpace page boasts Robert Randolph calling them “the Roots with Funk.” And though opening for Slick Rick and Boyz II Men has opened the door for credibility with the undie hip-hopsters, a smidge of DIY-punk ethos was probably the last thing anybody expected Friday at Bill’s Bar: no roadies were spotted as the rhythm section set up their own equipment.

Not that there was a lot of equipment in the first place: drummer J2K’s kit comprised just bass, snare, hi-hat, and crash cymbal. Less was definitely more — a tightly wound 4/4 rock beat set the mood during the intro of “Soundscape Finesse.” Bassist Roland Nicol, facing his amp in a crouched position, dropped tipples of bass pops as guitarist Jim Dozet and keyboardist Chris Klaxton, both with eyes closed, harmonized descending funk passages. As if the mood weren’t already set, MCs B. Cap, Journalist, and the Face of Fate cut the music mid beat to ask whether we were mentally prepared for the show. The answer was yes, as became clear when a friendly dancer caught up in the reverie inadvertently slapped me in the face.

Sometime later, the MCs wondered whether we’d ever been in one-sided relationships where more love was given than received. Just then, B. Clap morphed from uplifting flow master to wounded crooner. The revelation that he wants his baby even after she played him was like a jab to his face, and soulful yelps of “please don’t be so cold” were the final blow that sent him ass over teakettle. There was nothing left to give after that — no encore, just a group still breaking a sweat while breaking down equipment.

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