Hip Hop 918 has become one of those events that happens every year that celebrates the culture, the music, and the artform. I know, it’s crazy to see right? Who would’ve thought that Hip-hop would’ve lasted 50 years. More importantly, who would’ve thought that Tulsa, Oklahoma would be the place to celebrate it and bring some of the creators to a town they’ve probably only heard of recently during the Black Wall Street Massacre Centennial. But Hip Hop in Tulsa is happening, and now it’s clear to see, that Hip Hop is getting it’s time in the city they call 918.
Next, we got a glimpse of the new school of hip-hop artists that have the potential to blow up from Tulsa. These students/artists are from the McClain High School Music Program that is taught by Tulsa artist Steph Simon. These kids are truly learning from G.O.A.T.s, And in a short amount of time, they’ve gotten amazing opportunities such as shooting their first music video 4929 (click to see the video), which an ode the address for the school. They also are getting the opportunity to perform on this stage. A huge jump for a first performance. They got to cut their teeth in front of hundreds, you could tell they were living their dreams, and that they had a ways to go before they were truly ready. But some people practice, to get in shape, and some people play, to get in shape. And they were there to win. The performance reminded me of the Wu-Tang posse’ cuts where at anytime there would be 10+ members on stage, all with their own unique swagger. These young artists are talented. But if I had to put on my critique hat for one minute. I would suggest that they not perform with their vocals. We want to hear YOU! But still they're still learning and have one of the best teachers to help them along their journeys. They're gonna figure it out.
One of the best things about the night was getting to see this musical roulette where 4 artists in particular (Jeezmino, K,O, Yung Qwan, and OTS J Huncho) took turns rapping their songs. Starting with Jeezmino, who did what she does. That's rap, rap. She left no doubt that she has bars and is one of the baddest in the game. Every time she steps on the mic, she commands the stage and her respect. With a beat or without a beat you're gonna here her. That's just how sharp her words are. They cut deep.
Next was K.O. What else can you say about K.O.? She’s one of the most versatile, lyrical artists in the state. If you were looking at how much she is booked you probably would think she has to be from Tulsa, or at least OKC. But she’s from neither. She’s from Enid and she reps it loud and clear. Loud and clear is what grabbed the audience's attention so much that there were these audible for “ohhs” from the crowd because of a bar that hit hard. And that’s what you’re gonna do when witness a K.O. performance.
Then we get to Yung Qwan. Yung Qwan came out of nowhere with his new fade instead of the dreads we’ve known him to have. His song selection was dope, even coming to perform his latest track “Rocket Man”. I think all in all it was a good performance. But if I had to put the critique hat back on. I would say that rapping over his lyrics took away from his performance. For example, Rocket Man seems like it has a lot of emotion that the performer needs to get across to the audience. But when you’re hear two different voices (the vocals from the track and Yung Qwan) who are not on the same tempo and sound completely different it’s easier to pick out the mistakes from missed notes and the wrong vocal pitch. It put the microscope that much more on his performance to spot the blemishes. But he's a great artist that can fix that.
Last but not least in this rap roulette was the KING OF THE APES! OTS J. Huncho. His performance was the one that hit the hardest. I mean to see his growth from his first performance to now, is like night and day. When he first started performing, he used his backing vocals as sort of crutch, he had all the bravado, but that couldn't excuse the fact that to be the best rapper as he claimed, that he couldn't rap over his vocals. But now he’s flipped it and used his backing vocals to his advantage to help out with catching his wind and also to switch things up. He's realized that when donig a performance it's not just spittin bars, also there's showmanship. And that's what OTS J Huncho is incorporating in his shows. It's exiting to see this young rapper mastering his craft and rapping straight bars about the town he's from living in. He is the one. OTS J Huncho.
After the roulette was finished another M.C. grabbed the mic. Marcel P. Black. An artist that exudes everything it means to be an M.C. And if you know him then you probably have heard his motto: “Real emcees don’t rap over vocals”. And true to his motto Marcel P. Black performed in pure hip-hop fashion, controlling the crowd with his voice. He even had the crowd 2 stepping to his song. Now if that ain’t an M.C. than I don’t know what is.
Another veteran that came and rocked the stage was Dangerous Rob. His performance more than anything showed how deeply rooted he was in Tulsa hip-hop, as Playya 1000 gave him a dope introduction about being there since the beginning. His performance also showed that he’s a marketing genius as three members of his entourage handed out Dangerous Rob branded shirts, of which the crowd ran to catch and also background workers held up signs. It's clear to see why he's been doing his thing for so long. He even performed his latest track "I Luv You", which showed that the veteran still has a lot left to say.
When you talk about Tulsa Hip-Hop there’s no way you don't mention Steph Simon. He’s been the one in the trenches with the machete clearing the path that soo many artists are now walking behind. He’s not only rapped next to your favorite rapper; most likely he’s booked them. Now if that isn’t a Tulsa King than I don’t know what is. Which is exactly what his accapella freestyle was about. Being the Tulas King. And as he said in the chorus, “Tulsa Kings run the world and Tulsa queens run the world”. From Steph Simon’s first song, to his last, he moved the crowd. He was in his Best Mood. He’s clearly in his 100,000 hours of practice and it shows. It’s his commanding presence, and his ability to move the crowd that moved the legend Eric Sermon to speak to Steph Simon after the show. Cause Steph Simon Is Hip-Hop.
Last but definitely not least was the legends EPMD (which stands for Erick and Parrish Making Dollars) made up of the rappers Erick Sermon (“E Double”) and Parrish Smith (“PMD”) and DJ Diamond that hell from Brentwood New York. This is where our hip-hop lesson begins. But not where it ended. Because throughout their performance, not only were they playing their hits, but they were also teaching lessons. Lesson 1. Pure New York Hip hop. Say we don’t rhyme over vocals. As noted earlier in the article. It's doesn't help. Lesson 2. Hip-Hop means you have a dj. And it was with this lesson that DJ Diamond showed his mastery of the turn tables by scratching and even doing various tricks while the spotlight was on him. And last but not least. Lesson 3: Never forget the ones who came before you. EPMD ran thru some of the most classic Hip-Hop tracks, that no matter what generation you’re from, no matter what side of the train tracks you’re from. You respect it. Cause it’s Hip-Hop!
So that sums up Hip-Hop 918 2023. You can’t tell that you don’t have a reason to go next time. It’s a free event that celebrates one of the biggest genres in the world. And you get to see some of the legends in the game do what they do best. Hip-Hop. Just as important, you get to appreciate the amazing hip-hop scene and artists that we have right here in Tulsa. Continue to support these artists by showing up to their shows and buying their music and merch. And by the time that the next Hip-Hop 918 rolls around you’ll be a believer that Tulsa IS SO HIP-HOP!