With Blueberry Hill's long-running night the Science shutting down last year, the closure of the bar M.P. O'Reilly's -- which forced the Hi-Pointe Cafe to lose its home (again) -- and DJ Trackstar's Friday night Halo Bar spin changing formats, the hip-hop nightlife scene in St. Louis is at a bit of a crossroads at the moment.
Thankfully, a few new nights are popping up to fill the void left by these closures. I'll have more on Trackstar's new Blueberry Hill night, Integrity, later this week. But local hip-hopper Lyfestile is also promoting a new Wednesday night weekly event at the Ethiopian restaurant Queen of Sheba -- which he tells all about in the following interview.
Night Name: Wednesday Nite Hip-Hop @ Queen of Sheba (until I think of something else)
Location: Queen of Sheba (6665 Olive Boulevard, University City)
Hours? Charge? Dress code? Age limit? 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. $3 cover, ladies free before 11 p.m. No dress code!
How long has this night been in the works? About two months
Describe what the night will include. Is there a specific format? I'm hostin', talkin' to the people, shoutin' out the guests, doin' some crowd participation and makin' sure everyone is havin fun. K-Nine will be spinning great music as well as showin' you how a hip-hop DJ works. He'll be mixing and scratching like the expert he is, but he'll still keep if funky. There may be some additions to the format in the future depending on what the people want.
What will patrons be able to expect on a normal night? Expect to see a who's-who of the hip-hop scene: emcees, DJs, graf writers, b-boys/girls, producers, promoters, radio personalities, journalists, activists and folks who just wanna hear good music. Lots of ladies (hear that fellas?). People dancing, networking, partying, drinking and eating (Ethiopian food is served all night, but we will have bar food soon.)
What's DJ K-Nine's background? One of the best DJs on the planet. He's a member the the Waxmurdaraz Crew, which also includes B-Money, D-Ex, Charlie Chan and a few other heavy hitters. He's had years of experience (since '95) spinning at the Upstairs Lounge, Blueberry Hill and Hi-Pointe; battling (finalist in the Guitar Center and Kool Mixx battles as well as the DMC U.S. finals); and DJing for emcees/rap groups like Bits 'N Pieces, Nite Owl, the Committee and Clyph. He is one of the few DJs who can rock a party and show off his turntablist skills at the same time. His scratching cannot be duplicated, and he knows how to play the right song at the right time.
What do you want to achieve with this night? I just want to have a place where people can network, dance and have fun. No dress code discrimination: a guy don't have to dress up like a member of Morris Day and the Time to hear hip-hop. We provide the sound of the culture, the kind of hip-hop that's missing from the airwaves, and you'll still hear the songs that make you move your feet. There's already a real sense of community. The first night, I was surrounded by my peers from the scene; now we just want to invite everyone else to come out.
What sort of impact do you want to have on the St. Louis music scene? I just want to have a place where artists, fans and music lovers come together. No frills, just good music and good people. Artists with material to promote can come through. Anyone who is involved in any type of activism for the upliftment of the community is welcome to come out and spread good information. We're gonna have a lot of fun.
There has been quite a lot of...not turmoil, exactly, but transitions within the hip-hop nights in the community lately -- with venues closing, nights shifting styles, etc. What's been the biggest challenge for you and the scene, within this period of change? Our challenge is just letting those folks who missed out on Da Science and the Hi-Pointe to know that they have a new options. There are a lot a places in the city that play hip-hop, but we're going to provide an alternative to the music that gets forced on us by mainstream radio. We're giving you the music you like and maybe a few songs you haven't heard yet. K-Nine and myself love hip-hop culture, plain and simple, so we're gonna bring it to the people the right way.
Anything else you want to add? Thank you to everyone who's been supporting so far. There are a lot of really cool things on the horizon for St. Louis hip-hop, and there's room for everybody. Come check us out on Wednesdays. Support hip-hop culture! If you don't kow what that is, holla at me!