So you know when you go to a concert and it seems as though the opening act will never end? Your feet and back start hurting before your favorite headliner even comes on.  You try to distract yourself with a few more drinks, a few Instagram checks and restroom breaks. You fear you won’t be able to make it until the end of the show. Last Tuesday, March 4, was nothing like that.

Dirty Science is a record label which supports and fosters great underground hip-hop talent including, Blu, Exile, Johaz, Coss and Fashawn, and they are what’s happening in underground hip-hop right now. I was especially excited for this concert because I was not only going to see one of my favorite producers (Exile) but I was also going to interview him. Unfortunately that interview did not pan out as expected. Because of the change in plans I had a bitter taste in my mouth, but it was nothing a few beers and good music couldn’t fix.

The Casbah was packed. From all the times that I have been there, it was easily the most crowded show. This is just a testament to how popular and talented these artists are. Opening, were a few talented DJ’s. DJ Artistic, ABJO and Mr. Brady. After some of the local DJ’s, the young up and coming artists from Dirty Science got the chance to showcase their abilities. Denmark Vessey did a few songs from his EP Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid. Vessey was good but definitely has a long way to go in terms of perfecting his craft and stage presence. He does have potential though, I will give him that.

I don’t expect to be able to decipher what a rapper is saying, especially if I don’t already know the lyrics. Choosey made sure the crowd heard and understood him.

Vessey reminds me of a mix between Mos Def, ODB and Tyler the Creator, all very different rappers, so you’ll have to check him out for yourself to see what I mean. It was apparent that Choosey aka King Choosey aka Makeshift (producer name) had a few more shows under his belt than Vessey. Choosey spit clearly, which can’t be said for many hip-hop artists. I don’t expect to be able to decipher what a rapper is saying, especially if I don’t already know the lyrics. Choosey made sure the crowd heard and understood him.

He got the crowd ready for Dag Savage and Blu & Exile. It might have been because at this point everyone was already a few drinks in but I’m giving Choosey the credit. An easy way to determine if an artist had a good performance is simply if you take the time to look them up after the show, which is exactly what I did with Choosey- and I encourage you to do as well.

Dag Savage didn’t get on stage until 12. It was late but as I said before, we weren’t complaining. Dag Savage, in case you didn’t know consists of rapper Johaz and producer Exile. They recently came out with their debut album E&J. Johaz is a San Diego native so he was familiar with the crowd. Johaz opened with The Beginning, which was very fitting. This song sets the tone for the rest of the E&J album just as it did for the show. Slower, melodic, old school beats coming from the speakers were unmistakably produced by Exile. I was happy to hear one of my favorite songs on the album, When It Rains. Although Aloe Blacc wasn’t there in person, Dag Savage killed it nonetheless.

Everyone was jumping, bobbing their heads, throwing their hands up and sweating. There was a lot of sweating going on.

Johaz himself has incredible stage presence. He was jumping and running all over the stage, the crowd returned the favor. Everyone was jumping, bobbing their heads, throwing their hands up and sweating. There was a lot of sweating going on… His more personal song, For Old Time’s Sake wins the award for best performance. Johaz is the type of artist that wears his heart on his sleeve, putting it all out their for the crowd to take in, which is exactly what they did.  Vessey and Blu came out for Drugs, which only made Dag Savage’s performance better.

To see all of these guys on one stage, feeding off of each other and having fun was unbelievable. Seeing and hearing E&J being performed live was priceless. Although we’re only in March, E&J is my favorite album of the year thus far. Dag Savage is good hip-hop. One rapper, one producer giving it their all on every song.

Blu & Exile

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it was Blu & Exile time. I assumed the crowd came out for Dag Savage, Johaz being the San Diego native and all but they were apparently there for the dynamic duo of Blu & Exile. As soon as they were announced, the crowd went wild. They did a few songs off of their last album Give Me Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them but for the most part they stuck to the classics featured on their debut album Below the Heavens. I, along with the crowd were excited to hear the songs that we’ve been singing along to since 2007. They did all the great songs off of Below the Heavens starting with My World Is…

Throughout the rest of the performance they moved to, Soul Amazin’, No Greater Love, Dancing in the Rain, Blu Colla Workers and others. Although all the songs performed were familiar, Exile put a new and unique put a spin on them, as only Exile could do. Below The Heavens is one of the best underground albums out there and it was even better live. Exile himself put on a hell of a show.

I have never, and don’t think will ever, see another producer use an mpc the way he does. He went from using it as one would a piano, moving his fingers from one pad to another, to literally karate chopping it. Exile’s solo, led to the crowd rushing the stage. I ended my night dancing on stage with my friends and the Dirty Science crew. This show was definitely one for the books.

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