With the temperature steadily rising as we cruise into summer, it’s only natural that things get a little steamy around here. But when I tell you that Black on Black Rhyme’s Take a Load Off Tuesday May 18th show was hot, I don’t just mean the soft humidity that coated my skin before I walked into Studio 281. The Tallahassee troupe, Back Talk, was in the building, and so were a lot of other talented people.
The packed house helped–you know it always gets a little warmer when black folks sit close together. The faces become more familiar each time, the embraces more genuine, the smiles more fluid. And the artistry was beautifully sincere. From the suave to the spiritual, it was all love. Looking clean in a blazer and button-down, Smitty Rock graced the mic–and a lovely lady’s ear–when he spoke about penetrating the walls of her mind to travel to her heart. More than a few shivers went around the room when he ended with, “Can I lay you down?” and licked his bottom lip as he walked off the stage.
We took it back to Africa, too; Brother Ben did his thing on the djembes as usual, but he had some help this time. Trooth Heals, from Black on Black Rhyme Tallahassee, is doubly blessed with his hands and his tongue…by that I, mean he drums like a warrior and spits poetry like a seasoned griot.
The usual host, Paul D, was laid back for this show, but still took us on a musical journey back to Shai and Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You” with his poem about breaking up right. We rode that one out in waves of laughter and “mmhmms,” chiming in to help him sing, “my friiiiend….” from “If I Ever Fall in Love Again.” Because what is a song without a killer ending, anyway?
Speaking of friends and strangers, my personal favorite from the night was a dreadlocked newcomer to the venue named Deangelo. Silver spike in his lower lip, sandals on his feet, he had us spellbound with his poem about never forgetting where you came from and how you grew up. His gravelly voice drew us into the Atlanta of his childhood, with its concrete sidewalks and grandmothers welcoming us home.
And that’s what made it hot last Tuesday…that comfortable feeling that the people surrounding you share your love for the art flooding your ears. Not a searing heat, but a feel-good warmth that drove me home smiling. Like Paul D said, the hook might be off the hook, the bridge might be pimp, but nothing beats a Tuesday bookended with poetry and music.
Take a Load Off Tuesday’s next show is June 1st. Don’t miss out!