I’m sipping a Tanqueray and Tonic, watching Vandalzym make his rounds at his CD release party at the Old Rock House. He’s on lap number two around the bar at this point, laughing, delivering handshakes and man-hugs. His BlackBerry rings every five minutes, signaling him to move on. Appropriately, DJ Needles drops Clipse’s “Grindin’”
Since the man of the hour is still a few tables away from mine, I look around the venue, which I’ve never been to before, and realize how fucking nice it is. Leather couches and stools, old-fashioned tile floor, two bars, and a balcony with a view of the ample stage and LCD projection screen. The Arch and the downtown skyline are visible through the plate glass windows to the left of the stage. This might be the best mid-sized venue in St. Louis.
Van, dressed in a blue sweatshirt that proclaims, “I’m Fresher Than You,” exclusive Nike Dunk high tops, and a Cards hat cocked atop his head at an impossible angle, finally makes his way around the bar. I tell him I’m impressed with the venue—and the growing crowd, which is dressed mostly like they’re going to be posing for the cover of Vibe.
“Just because it’s hip-hop doesn’t mean it has to be grimy,” he says, laughing.
And so it was.
At the release party for Megatron Majorz (the album has been on the shelves of Vintage Vinyl for three months, but whatever, it makes for a good excuse for a party), St. Louis hip-hop was at the top of its game.
After Finale, a Detroit emcee featured on Majorz, warmed the crowd up with a rapid fire set of Gang Starr- and J Dilla-inspired joints, it was V-Majorz’s turn to take the stage. Flanked by a hard-hitting Gotta Be Karim and with DJ Reminisce on the cutz, Van knocked it cold.
The set opened with an extended Billy Joel sample from the Megatron Majorz song “Charity Case,” and Van proclaimed in his opening verse, “I’m a mix between Talib and Jeezy…I’m what it sound like if Miles decided to start rhyming.”
On “Ol’ Girl,” his ode to the Pam Griers of the world (“Old as hell and I still wanna hit it…”) the crowd was singing along and cracking up at the same time. On another track, he and Karim boomed, “My city is drama town, S-T-L don’t play around,” and the audience responded with raised hands, index fingers and thumbs in the shape of an L.
It was as playful and entertaining of a hip-hop show I’ve seen since moving to St. Louis. The crowd was dancing, (in response to Van and a few friends who choreographed a little routine in between sets), laughing (in particular, at a Q&A with the crowd that went, “How many of y’all ready for some real hip-hop?”… DJ plays brief clips of Soulja Boy and Shop Boyz…“This is not that”), and having fun.
It begs the question: Why doesn’t this type of event happen more often?
Vandalyzm & Gotta Be Karim:
Vandalyzm again, on the balcony:
Vandalyzm and his cousin: