As is the way with hip hop events, The Come Up Show at Britton Pub started an hour late and worked its way from emergent artists to more polished artists. More established artists like Jabee and Chris McCain were in the building although not on the stage. Former DJ duo Fish and Chips represented on the ones and twos…or the electronic, computer controlled turntables. Either way they were dope.
An artist I’d never seen perform before, Butch, offered up three tracks. The first one he titled “the perfect summer song for any of y’all smokers.” And it was exactly about that. For track two he told us “this for y’all hip hop heads.” A couple of lines in from the chorus, he sang: “everyday I’m ridin/ put my life on the line…tell that girl/ here’s my d— where she can sit her face.” Some of my friends would call me a hip hop head, but that song didn’t move me. It might be better not to tell us what to expect of his romantic tendencies. While Butch is comin’ up, he wants you to know he has a mixtape out called “Put It Bluntly” and I can guarantee you that pun is all about the double hits.
GLC The Team performed at least 6 tracks. Some of the lines I was able to make out were: “money over everything except God and family…I put that on my granny.” The production and the lyrics on that track felt old school to me, in a good way. They did a track that might have been titled “Oh Man” featuring host, co-organizer, and closing act Beetyman. They shouted out “Puzzle People all the way” and made me wonder if the close-knit yet hard-to-define hometown OKC crew was accepting new members, or if GLC was just showing love. The group captured my attention with a song that went a little deeper. It was a combination of clever lines like: “they tellin’ me to keep it touch like the iPad” and “my credibility is bout as low as my tank;” and the thoughtful, hard-hitting chorus: “take a look into the mirror/is that inner soul matching up with the image? Yearn for, beg for, live for …something more something more” had me wondering why I hadn’t heard more from them and if they had a mixtape out. They also brought in your expected hip hop staples: sexual innuendos and blatant disregard for disapproving eyes: “I ain’t never been a pimp/just had some business on my d—” and “I rep the Thunder and the Lakers middle finger to the haters.” That’s one way to do it, still hometown proud, yet connected to the established powerhouse. Smart move.
Studda Budda has played the game for awhile now. I wonder if he’s been in so long that his focus on just rapping has started to wear thin. When he’s not working or engaged in the community, you can catch him supporting local artists working in other mediums: poets, painters, and clothing designers to name a few. Maybe being busy with other things is why he said, “I’m so fly, I ain’t even practice for this” and later, after a sub par few bars, “that’s what happens when you don’t practice.” His freestyle segment started rough but I give it a 6.5 of 10 for the comeback. Quotable lines: “smoke something/call me an herbivore,” “if you don’t hear anything I say: get paper/ stay in school,” “I’m Mike Studda, just a different piece of the puzzle we call life.” The best song he did that night had a hook letting everyone know “Oklahoma’s got talent/ little bit more than just farming.” At one point during Studda’s set, Beetyman got up to start acting as hype man. Sometimes, the difference between a rapper with a hype man and a rapper without is like the difference between a Big Mac combo from McDonald’s when you haven’t eaten all day and a gourmet burger and fries from Red Robin for the same low price at drive-through speed. A hype man can take it from “pretty filling” to “the best thing I could have in that moment.” All’s well that ends well though, and Studda knows how to put in work.
L.T.Z. is my favorite youngin’ on the scene. His lyrics are dope, his swag is unique and unassuming, and his constant references to his asthma let you know how real it is. He raps about his broken heart, “writing rhymes at the dinner table/ food for thought” and “I’ve been in love so long my love’s on clearance.” He lets you know what you should do with his music: “I’m’a memorize it” because “it’s surprisin’.” L.T.Z. then convinced anyone who wasn’t sure about his skills with an unreleased track including the line: “I’m still my brother’s keeper.” L.T.Z. is my favorite up-and-comer for several reasons, but at this show it was because he made me want work hard as hard as he does. He was the first one that night to make me want to dance in hella heat. And the track he did it with never gets old: “I got my windows rolled down and my music up loud” featuring Frank Black. That show wasn’t my first time thinking I know exactly where to look to find the future of hip hop.
Beetyman closed out the show with a bang. “It’s clear to see the underdog is after a million G.” His version of keeping it real actually feels real, not just like the rap game’s favorite catch phrase. He rocked out featuring L.T.Z.: “real recognize real I’m’a stay the same” and let his friends know: “it’s the same n—-s you went school wit/ but now we on some cool s—” featuring Porter from GLC The Team. In case you didn’t know, as “O City’s best/ believe we ’bout to take it there.” And he continues to prove “I’m the s— like a cowpie” and you can’t deny it because “the beat moves slow/ I kill the competition / put ’em on death row.” When Beety says it, I believe him: “Eff the money and the fame/ in the end all that is worthless.” The only reason I called L.T.Z. my favorite up-and-comer is because I think Beetyman has already come up. He kills the Puzzle People circuit, rocking with Jabee (who “put him on”) and he easily crosses over to the Paradime crowd featuring for Josh Sallee and keeping Kamp’s hype. If The Come Up Show is where you perform in order to get noticed, Beety is too big to be here even if “Everybody loves an underdog.”
A successful local show is when you rock hard enough to sweat out your edges and when you’re still rocking out to the artists’ albums the next weekend. They took it there.