Psalm One’s Midwest Tour swings through Champaign this Friday night with a show at Cowboy Monkey with fellow Chicago native MC Longshot and local support from Jay Moses, Klevah, Automatic Champion, and Reese T. Interestingly, the line-up contains three sets of creative hip hop collaborators from Illinois with three of the six performers releasing fresh material on new albums in the last six months. Smart lyrics from experienced performers with a strong point of view and something to say—this show will appeal to hip hop fans and people who might not otherwise seek out a hip hop show on their own.
Headlining the show at Cowboy Monkey is Psalm One (aka Hologram Kizzie). She’s a native of Chicago and no stranger to C-U. Psalm One is an alumna of our little university down the street with a degree in Chemistry. Psalm One’s debut effort, Bio:Chemistry, followed her degree over a decade ago. Combine that initial album with The Death of the Frequent Flyer (2006) and her latest album, Free Hugs, and you’ll begin to understand what Psalm One can deliver. The most recent video from Free Hugs came out only a few days ago.
Veteran MC Longshot accompanies Psalm One on her Midwest Tour. A native of Chicago and former Rhymesayers Entertainment touring hypeman for Psalm One (among others), MC Longshot has multiple albums under his belt as well. Touring, battling, hypeman—all scream I LOVE TO PERFORM. Longshot has over a decade of performing and writing under his belt.
Local hip hop heavyweights Jay Moses and Klevah add local flavor to compliment the out-of-town headliners. Jay Moses recently released an EP titled #TheGenius with Heirship Records. Moses is an experienced local writer and performer with a crew of friends and fellow performers like Klevah that have performed with him before all over C-U from The Velvet Elvis to The Highdive to street fests. Everything is great—a tagline for the crew but also a promise: everything is good, everything is great… stick with us… we’ll be ok.
While C-U native Klevah may not have the many years of experience that Jay Moses has, she definitely still has depth in her lyrics and sound. She holds her own on stage and draws you in to her performance. And while she may be a newcomer when compared to Jay Moses, she’s definitely carving out her voice and space already. Klevah self-released her debut album, The W8, which came out in May 2013, with Jay Moses guesting on the track “84s”.
Two more local artists round out Friday’s line-up. Automatic Champion, known to many as the resident DJ at Reggae Tuesdays at Mike ‘N Molly’s, also produces music as well. Many of his tracks combine reggae beats with hip hop which is a natural fit. I have heard many stories of AutoChamp’s amazing reggae collection, and I had suspected that it was broad beyond that single genre. The Soap sample in this track has me convinced. AutoChamp joined by Reese T—who has also worked with AutoChamp on tracks as well.
This theme of collaborating couples definitely demonstrates the depths that can come from creative partnerships. Six individual artists with strong points of view that can also successfully moderate their voices so as to remain harmonious when paired with another. There’s a lesson to be learned in there somewhere. Something relevant to the current time and place, but more importantly, it’s gonna make for a *fantastic* show.