It was a dark and rainy March 5th evening, but the neon lights from Catch One’s marquee attracted the brightest emcees and Hip Hop connoisseurs to Pico Blvd. The renowned venue hosted Skyzoo’s “The Mind of a Saint” tour with supportive performances from Big Twins, Rigz & Mooch, Lenox Hughes, & Los Angeles’ Oshea Boyd.
This event was a benefit concert with all proceeds being donated to A Place Called Home in South Central, or “South LA” as the gentrified population know it. The night started off with a boom-bap soundtrack provided by DJMIKEC, while early patrons ordered drinks and consciously bobbed their heads. In the corner, there was a crew of guys in leather jackets surrounded by aromatic clouds of weed mouthing the words to every classic rap song that pumped through the speakers.
Annette LBC (of Hold You Down Entertainment, one of the promoters of the night), did her best to keep the crowd entertained and gaveaway tickets to the upcoming Rhymefest concert to a few lucky people.
A few seconds later, she introduced the first performer Oshea Boyd. He calmly walked on stage draped in a LA Kings jersey, with a denim hat covering his braids. His smooth demeanor quickly faded away as his energetic verses filled the void that an opener is usually tasked with. Boyd’s comfortability on stage was a relief. He interacted with the crowd just as a seasoned veteran would. A brief break in his songs was compensated with an incredible acapella verse that solidified the intention of his lyrics. His quick stint on stage was closed on Boyd’s feelings of gratitude and the importance of this show. I’m looking forward to the emergence of Oshea Boyd’s career.
Next up on stage was Harlem-born & Los Angeles-based MC, Lenox Hughes. As he graced the microphone in an all black outfit with his muscles breaking out his t-shirt, his entourage hopped backstage to provide physical support. Hughes’ set made me reminisce of a rapper spitting rhymes with homies on the corner of the block – but I guess that’s what Gold Chain Music is all about. Midway through his set, he calls a special guest to join him for a song – it’s none other than Planet Asia. These two artists have chemistry that is showcased not only in the recorded form, but in the live show atmosphere as well. There was a point when Planet Asia took over DJ duties to provide music dropouts, so Hughes’ lyrics could be fully understood. The end of the set felt like a family affair as K. Burns provided vocals on “Off the Books”.
The New York soundscapes were on full display for the night. Rigz & Mooch added their Rochchester, NY sensibilities and Big Twins represented for Queensbridge. Mooch gave respect to the California weed that improved his performance, while Rigz showed love to the Dodgers by donning a conveted Dodgers jacket. These two performers traded verses all while keeping their energy high. Big Twins performance was brash and raw due to the self-admitted hangover, however DJ Mishaps made sure not a single soul in the audience cared.
All the performances thus far were a great showcase of the talent on both coasts. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed themselves by the amount of hands in the air and “ayes” being screamed. As trumpeter Sean Taylor soundchecked his instrument, the entire crowd knew something big was about to happen. Within a minute, Skyzoo stepped to the stage while the audience came closer to embrace the headliner. His set opened with the jazzy backdrop of “Eminent Domain”, the bass of the track hit my stomach and gave my heart an extra beat.
The productions of The Other Guys compliment Skyzoo’s lyrics like coffee and creamer. Skyzoo’s storytelling skills have excelled at a pace of top tier athletes. A short vocal break for Skyzoo was filled with Sean Taylor’s freestyle trumpet performance of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “T.R.O.Y.”. To see and hear this in a live setting was the cherry on top of this rap ice cream sundae. The Mind of a Saint is a concept album that interpolates the story of Snowfall’s Franklin Saint. Skyzoo treats the LA-based story with respect and reverence while presenting auditory content that begs the listener to engage their brain on the topics of hustling drugs, government hypocrisy, and moral empathy. I enjoy the boom-bap aesthetic and styles of the 90s, but seeing Skyzoo perform in a live setting reminded me why I fell in love with this artform. This performance got me as high as one of Franklin’s fiends, all in the name of Hip Hop.