stalley + more: the ottobar, 2.22.11

photo by kelly connelly


When I first heard about this show (presented by A Good Supply, a new Baltimore “organization of artists, brand developers, [and] bloggers that create events to promote their works and agendas” and sponsored by Coors Light), I was looking forward to it for a few reasons: I miss going to Hip-Hop shows at The Ottobar; Stalley is a new (at least to me) artist I wanted to see live; and the lineup—which made a lot of sense—was comprised of a lot of area artists I like.

Kane Mayfield and band were on stage when I arrived (being tardy for the party caused me to miss Beck and Trey R). Kane’s recent single “Wreck” translated quite well with the band, even if it did lack a bit of the boom-bappedness of the original track. The band also did slick interpretations of Nas’ “Represent” and Travis Porter’s “Make It Rain” for Kane to rhyme over. It was a surprise to learn that this was the band’s first “official” gig after forming to back Kane at his recent Mobtown Studios micro-show.

Al Great took the stage next and vocalized the thought running through my head when he asked the crowd: “Are y’all too cool to have fun?” People loosened up a bit during his set, in part after Al and Supe won them over with the call-and-response during “Where Is the Love?”. Like Kane, Al has an easy-going presence on stage, joking a lot between songs. Al’s also an artist who likes to collaborate, and he was also joined onstage by Lee Scholar. Duce Wayne, with whom Al has recorded a bunch of times, was in the audience, so I was expecting to see him up there, too, but he was there in audience mode. (One odd thing, though, was that his DJ was on the mezzanine during his set, rather than on stage.)

DC’s Uptown XO, one-third of Diamond District, followed Al. Joined by Gordo Brega, he put on a good show, but by the time he started performing, the crowd had retreated back into a laissez-faire (albeit polite) attitude. At one point, he rapped to a girl near the front of the stage, who did not look up from texting on her phone for even one nanosecond while he tried to get her attention.

Before I say anything else about Greenspan, I have to say (not for the first time) that I love his voice—it’s easily among my all-time favorite among Baltimore MCs. Green was joined onstage by his tour manager, JB, and a very cute sort-of dancer. (Another guy joined her on stage, seemingly inspired by the good time she appeared to be having.) During one song, Greenspan stumbled a bit over his own lyrics, which could be blamed, in part, to his prolificacy. Prior to another song, he asked the crowd if they liked club music and referenced a few songs that almost magically got the females in the crowd moving.

When Stalley appeared on stage, the first thing he did was dap up a guy near the front, saying something to the effect of “nice beard.” (Stalley might be known as much for his beard as his music at this stage in his career.) His Lincoln Way Nights mixtape has been in heavy rotation for me since its release earlier this month. Produced entirely by fellow Ohioan Rashad, the 16 tracks form a very cohesive project. I don’t know what you’d file this under—Hip-Hop, Midwest, classic car-driving, funk. Whatever it is, it’s refreshing and it works.  (A couple times, Stalley let the songs rock out to the very end, obviously enjoying the beats himself.)

Midway through his set, technical difficulties prompted an unplanned cipher of sorts on stage, with Stalley handing over the mic to a few MCs in the audience. After the sound problems were rectified, he continued on with “Slapp”, which was originally supposed to be his last song. (In my mind, I called for an encore of this song.) He did a few more songs, though, including “Hercules”, a song he said he wrote after he “realized [he] was the best rapper in the world.” That remains to be seen, but for now, I’ll say that he’s definitely one of the best new Hip-Hop artists on the scene.

For more photos from the show, click the photo above or here.