Maxed Out Monthy: a tribute to underground hip-hop

By Ann Marie Trietley, Music Columnist:
Last weekend’s Maxed Out Monthly at Broadway Joe’s was definitely the spot to see and be seen. The Rolling Rock endlessly flowed from the tap as hip-hop moguls from both the Midwest and East Coast put on stunning performances. Promoter Tony Caferro was able to merge two tours, with DJ Halo of Connecticut at the turntables. 
“There’s a lot of stuff that happens under the radar here [in Buffalo],” said Caferro, chilling on the outdoor patio. “Guys from both tours happened to have this one day that criss-crossed,so we put it together. Stuff like this goes on and no one really knows about it. There’s this great talent coming into Buffalo that we should know.”
Jake Spiech of Minneapolis, also known as Prhym 8 had played in Buffalo only once before, at Nobody’s, which he described as a “speakeasy that was dope, and very cool.” He employs live beats and politically and socially-charged lyrics.
“I try to vibe off the energy,” said Spiech. When asked to describe his music in three words, he declares, “It’s life changing.” 
“I try to change the planet and it doesn’t work, so I might as well shoot for the moon and see if that will work,” Spiech continues. 
DJ Halo, whose real God-given name is Jeep Ward – “I have very bizarre parents” – held down the night with his personal brand of beats and mash-ups. Ward draws inspiration from the first two albums he ever purchased, NWA’s Straight Outta Compton and Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction. He grew up frequenting not only punk shows, but also raves, drum n bass, house and electro shows. 
“I’ve always loved hip-hop more than anything else,” said Ward, clad in glasses and a knotted scarf. “The white guy being unique and interesting in rap is a passe thing, and if a rapper relies on being like, Yo, I’m white and I can rap, it’s a silly kind of crutch.” 
Later, ECID aka Jason McKenzie of Minneapolis, took the mike. His neon screenprinted sweatshirt and electro-derived beats sent your loyal music correspondent into a Crystal Castles/Ladytron-inspired reverie. 
“I draw inspiration from real life,and am always inspired by new music, like the new Animal Collective and new Purity Ring albums,” said McKenzie.
When he performs, McKenzie prefers to draw from the mood of the crowd and let that determine his repertoire for the evening. 
“I have other songs that are trip-hop influenced,” said McKenzie. 
The 29-year-old had never been to Buffalo before; his album Werewolf Hologram just came out in March, available on iTunes. McKenzie will be spending the winter making a new record, running his own label, and promoting his existing record. 
Then eyenine, also known as Michael Gene Dionne, hopped on stage, following his tour with RZA. The pitch of his voice and angry lyricism summons many comparisons to Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine. He had just played Chicago and Detroit, and brought a unique element to the underground hip-hop already displayed.
  “I mainly listen to Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, Streetlight Manifesto, the punk scene and ska scene,” said Dionne. “I rarely listen to rap.”
Dionne’s tour with RZA came about when RZA saw him perform in Maine and simply asked him to be a part of his tour. Dion describes the experience as “insane,mind blowing , humbling,scary, and intense.” 
Next up is Camp Lo with Mad Dukez and Fresh Kils playing at DBGB’s on Dec. 8. and Maxed Out Monthly back at Broadway Joe’s on Dec. 15. 

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