Of all the music communities in Columbus these days, the most exciting sounds are emerging from the hip-hop scene. Fresh faces are bursting with potential, veteran talents are still going strong and figures from all points on the spectrum are intermingling in fascinating fashion.
All the momentum has caused some of Columbus rap's movers and shakers to begin planning a national hip-hop festival. The movement, newly minted as the Columbus Hip Hop Alliance, had its public launch Friday with a Columbus rap showcase at Skully's.
I like the idea of banding together to work toward something great. The trouble with this show was that it featured few artists who are doing something exceptional - no Fly.Union, nobody from Milk N Syrup, no The 3rd, no Alleyes Path, no Sinatra, no J. Osceola. The list goes on.
A handful of those names were slated to perform but didn't, which left me disappointed when 2 a.m. rolled around. I had been particularly excited to catch J. Osceola, considering "The Brain Food Project" is among this city's top releases this year, but he never made it to the stage.
The emcees that did were rarely rancid but seldom ascended beyond competent.
Thankfully the worst of it passed early: Dynamik delivered Vanilla-Ice-goes-to-Jersey-Shore nerdcore over house beats and unforgivably tarnished LCD Soundsystem's "Someone Great."
On the plus side, Meechie Nelson came off like a sleazier version of Lupe Fiasco or a more nimble Pharrell. His preppy suburban-lacrosse-player shtick was highly palatable after a series of crews that were enjoyable but often tough to tell apart - One Hood, Unruly Records, RNS Entertainment.
Omnibreed wasn't significantly stronger than the other groups, but their set felt different thanks to the freak factor from their twitchy masked dancer and a focus on group leader C10.
Last up was NiQ, whose resume includes a recent mixtape with Michigan's well-connected DJ Benzi. The rapper did his best to stimulate an audience that had mostly thinned out, but it wasn't to be.
Not every show can be as stacked as July's 614 Summer Jam, but hopefully more of the city's stars will shine next time CHHA throws an event.