Now as Chicago residents-especially if you’re from either of the South and West sides- you’ve been exposed to some sort of hustle. Whether it be the famous “bucket boys” beating their plastic percussion beats or multitude of “hood vendors” selling anything from candy to cold water on hot days. Or maybe its the Shea Butter man who sells his wares faithfully on the corner of 79th and State. Regardless of the scheme we’ve all been aware of the grinding tendencies of the urban underground. Imagine my excitement when I got a message from comedian/actor Real Shannon D about a place that hosts the ultimate hustle. Rappers and singers from all around the Chicago-area gather in one place to not peddle dime-store products but to distribute their lyrics and skills at Club Jags monthly event Hustle My Flow. Shannon D, who plays host to this frequent event, assures me the event goes hard. The event which is often standing room only let’s artists sign up to perform at 9pm and come 10:30 its showtime! And the last artist to perform is sort of the headliner of the event. I, Vonnie Coleman, on behalf of 4-Star Explorer came out to witness these performers do their thing.
Once I arrived at the location of event I thought I was lost being that the structure of the bar looked very modest. After a short time I ran into Real Shannon D and he was instantly warm and welcoming in demeanor. I got a chance to ask him a few questions about the event before it started.
4-Star: How long has the event been going on?
Real Shannon D: The show has been going on about once a month for about ten months now.
4-Star: How long have you hosted?
Real Shannon D: This is my second time hosting so about a month now. I’ve hosted a lot of shows like this before and once I voiced my opinions they liked me. They brought me on the team and now I’m doing a little bit more behind the scenes.
4-Star: Give me a breakdown of the event.
Real Shannon D: It’s a hip-hop showcase. Artists come in between 9 and 10 o’clock to sign up. The DJ begins spinning about 9:30. We give as many artists as we can a 5-minute slot. Each show we have a featured artist and after the featured artist performs we announce the new featured artist for the next event. Whoever is picked to be the featured artist gets a V.I.P. table and gets more time to perform than the other acts.
Ah…what the allure of V.I.P. won’t make some people do. Once my travel companion, Kalise Anderson, and I entered the event I got a chance to get some shots of the performance space.The showcase is actually held in the rear room of the bar and though small it still seemed spacious and tastefully decorated. The registered spin doctor DJ Batman stood reserved as he culminated and transformed songs blending them one into another. As I sat waiting I noticed that I was only one of a few patrons of the event. The host assured me they always got a packed house. I worried if the also vastly popular music event Lollapalooza had not conflicted with the attendance.I also noticed that the dress code was very casual as I sat with high heels and cocktail dress (which is not my preferred attire mind you, I’ve very much a jeans and blazer girl)
Once the audience swelled and the performers began I noticed the different talent level. The first few acts were very underground….I mean extremely underground….I mean basement party level. And I love my city but some of the artists were very “bounce and break yo back-ish” if that makes any sense. And while that level of music talent is very nostalgic most of us have outgrown it and I for one am not here for it. But every cloud has a silver lining, every rose has its thorn and any other nonsensical idiom you can come up with and for me, there was a rapper who stood above the rest. Local artist, Rap Mouth The Genius, was the standout performer for me. He took me back to a time when a rapper’s words outshone their beats. When there was no gimmicks required but just raw talent and flow. He even killed it A Capella and had the crowd hanging on his words.
Also very much the crowd-pleaser was the event’s featured artist, Duble “R” Da Great, self-proclaimed greatest Puerto Rican Rapper in the Chi. His set was very rousing and energetic as he took his shirt off eliciting a boisterous reaction from the crowd. But I just couldn’t hold back my surprise at the mention of what he reported was his latest hit to drop a lovely song entitled “Cock You Down.” While the crowd waited between sets I was pleased to make the acquaintance of a great Chicago urban fashion designer Rowan Richards who is owner of the King Lizzy t-shirt and sneaker line and subsequently sponsor of both Duble R Da Great and the Hustle My Flow event.
So what’s the rundown of this event?
-Very casual dress
-Affordable only $5 each event
-You might want to bring something to do because with the Open Mic layout of the event you may be waiting some time before people sign up to perform and start the show. May I suggest beating that Temple Run score?
-Great for true hip-hop heads. DJ Batman does a good job of playing to old and newer music lovers.
-Local Chicago artists should take advantage of this chance to hone their skills in front of an audience without being harshly critiqued.
-Be wary, you have no control over the amount of talent that evening. You might hear the next great hip-hop emcee or….you may get your next headache.
Does this sound like an event to remember or forget? I’ll let you be the judge but what I can definitively say, this event is great for city dwellers not interested in the nightlife scene but looking for a low cost, chill night out.
Jagiellonia “Club Jags”
3634 West Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
Support Our Local Talent!!! These People are 4-Star Approved:
Real Shannon D
@RealShannonD via Twitter
Rap Mouth The Great
@RapMouthFlow via Twitter
Rowan Richards of King Lizzy Apparel
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