Smile Politely

Hip-hop rocks the house at Cowboy Monkey

Hip-hop is one of the most competitive and game-changing genres in music and there are always newcomers. Whether it is an alternative conscious rapper or whether they be a hot spitting metaphorical monster, there’s always new raw talent. Last night, three up and coming artists performed and rocked the house at Cowboy Monkey.

First up was Frank Leone, a young rapper from Monticello, IL who has some of the nicest production of an unsigned artist now. Did I mention he does his own production? Well, he does. And it’s awesome. When he first got onto the stage, he looked a little nervous but kept the crowd engaged and as soon as the beat dropped, all of the pre-show jitters vanished. He started rapping, going hard with the beat and then he really got into it. His performance was quite entertaining, with his “flow” hand — a hand that typically moves as an artist is rapping, it just happens – moving just about as fast as the lyrics and his hype excitement was something that washed over the crowd. While the crowd was still in “turn up” mode, Leone slowed it down with a song featuring an Amy Winehouse sample. Who knew the kid could sing? He had a nice little melodic tune and I can dig it, so props to him. His performance emulated the passion of young up and comers just trying to do what they love.

Next was Champaign’s own Klevah Knox. If you’re looking for the non-typical female lyricist, then this is your girl. She got on the stage with an aura of confidence and just started to go in with a freestyle. She’s not your typical female rapper, in fact, she has the gritty toughness of a pitbull yet she has the same passion of someone who performs spoken word. Her aura, energy and flow  reminds me of an old school Queen Latifah and her word play is quite Klevah, if you catch my drift. My favorite song that was performed was “Breathe” because she really got into it and you could see and even somehow feel the emotion that was in the song, and I know the crowd enjoyed it too.

Closing out the show was Jay Moses who got the crowd going as soon as he stepped onto the stage. He started out with  a song who wrote the night before and even then the crowd responded pretty well to it. Then he jumped right in with a more lively and upbeat song accompanied by a very hype Hypeman. The performance had so much energy, the crowd just ate it up, which led me to enjoy it more.

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Needless to say, it was a really good show. But what I really enjoyed most about it, was the support of the other artists. From the crowd, you can see their chemistry and how they went to cheer each other on. I believe it’s always good to see young people supporting one another because that’s what it’s all about. So the show was good and the acts were great.

Photos by Sean O’Connor.

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