Homegrown at The Cage highlights D.C.’s hip-hop scene

Many people may have assumed Homegrown was some kind of marijuana-legalization rally because it came on the same day as Cypress Hill’s GW appearance. Au contraire; this new Saturday night hip-hop party is a bold foray into hip-hop culture that is sure to breathe life into the D.C. scene.

Billed as the soul from which the new roots of D.C. hip-hop will sprout, Homegrown offers a mixture of the four elements of this urban culture: DJ’s, break-dancing, graffiti art and rhyme. The premiere night of this party was a booming success, as The Cage nightclub was crowded with a mix of D.C. hip-hop veterans, college students and clubbers craving the bass-heavy sounds offered up by local DJ’s. On the wheels of steel, as turntables are called, was the well-known Roctakon and S-Hands, both from Goonies Crew, as well as Virginia’s own Dutchmasta, kicked off the party by spinning some hip-hop favorites.

Next at bat was the Crooked Apostles, billed as an organic hip-hop funk band from D.C. For those who think all hip-hop is the same and requires no musical talent, take note: Crooked Apostles is a bona-fide band, complete with drums, congos, bass guitar and lead guitar. Nate and Lance, the two knowledge-dropping emcees, fill out the band. Smashing another stereotype, the lyrics the band spat had nothing to do with violence, mayhem or murder. These emcees preach a positive message not just in music, but as a way of life. As Erik from the 2010 Projects promotion company, which put on the event, points out, This hip-hop movement is a youth movement, allowing us to move forward as a city . I give props to everybody who preaches positivity.

Headlining the first-ever Homegrown event was 3LG, a group that needs no introduction for those familiar with D.C. hip-hop. This veteran crew, which performed together for more than ten years, was proof that a group doesn’t need platinum record sales to have enthusiastic fans singing along with every verse. Sticking true to the evening’s billing to let the music fly, to keep the people’s spirits high, 3LG also featured a complete band led by long-haired colorful emcee Mao.

But Homegrown is much more than a concert; it is a blend of styles of art, music and dance unparalleled on the D.C. scene. Stationed off to the side of the stage is Aaron Timsley, graffiti artist exrtaordinaire, who completes a colorful piece six square feet in area. Meanwhile, the fast feet and spinning bodies of Natural Elements Crew provide the acrobatic entertainment of breakdancing. These B-Boys have been around for years and prove that breakin’ is not an anachronism at all, but is an art form that is alive and kicking.

If you’re looking for a stale show, keep your distance. Homegrown definitely lives up to its billing as Guaranteed Fresh. This Saturday, look for the talented reggae band Soldiers of Jah Army and expect a performance by famed hip-hoppers Infinite Loop. Bringing a unified approach to urban culture, the organizers of this party have created not only a booty-bumping experience, but also one of positive vibes.

We offer what nobody has offered before in D.C., promoter Rob Parcell said. Not just DJ’s but the whole experience.

Due to the small hip-hop market in D.C. – as opposed to larger cities like New York and Philadelphia – artists realize they have to come together to let everyone know that D.C. hip-hop is alive, presenting a positive message with passion. Mission accomplished.

Homegrown runs every Saturday night 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. at The Cage (located at 1811 14th St. between S and T Streets) and is open to anyone 18 and older. $10 admission. For information call 202-744-6785 or 703-244-8299.

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