Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mosaics at the Belmont

I'm not really a hip hop person. I grew up about a quarter mile from Hempstead, the epicenter of some of the first artists of the genre (Public Enemy, in particular), and so kind of took it for granted. It was only after I left New York that I realized that hip hop is some kind of quasi-underground genre of music -- not the all-consuming entity it seemed to be. I've retained a few beefs though, such as the focus on the hyper-masculine, materialistic, anti-woman, anti-homosexual messages. Fortunately, not all hip hop is of that stripe and I can't paint every artist with the same brush. All the same, I dig hip hop because I like -- no -- LOVE -- I LOVE to dance. So if they talkin' 'bout bitches, ain't me theys talkin' 'bout.

Montreal has a vibrant hip hop scene and an internationally celebrated dj culture. Pair those things with the live music and you've got a true mosaic (pun intended) of St. Laurent's Friday night lifeblood. It was my good fortune to catch some of Montreal's turntabilists orchestrated live music by DJ Mana at Le Belmont. Again, this isn't my regular scene, but I did recognize a few names on the bill.

It isn't easy to describe the event, but basically DJ Mana (Annam Le) led his group of turntabilists as a kind of musical jam maestro. Along with scratching and other techniques, the dj-altered record was mixed with spoken word lyric, the musical talents of electronic beats, guitar, and keyboard. I was most surprised by the keyboard talent that the entire mash was able to provide. Little did I know that these djs are not just masters of mixing sound, but know a thing or two about how to play music as well.

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