Of rapper ciej's event at the Luminary next week with hip-hop collective MME (Mediate. Meditate. Elevate.), he says, "I might perform on the ceiling." MME will descend on the space at 2701 Cherokee, an incubator for new ideas in the arts that presents visual art exhibitions, an artist residency program, concerts and LAB, a one-year old event series that pushes musicians beyond their music.
Formed last summer, LAB offers local musicians a venue to explore their ambitions and the different dimensions of their artistic practices. AstThe Luminary's Operations and Events Coordinator Liz Deichmann explains, "We are interested in pushing the conversation of music past traditional concert experiences." The Luminary's interior, now bare of furniture in anticipation of a floor refurbishing, provides artists a literal blank canvas to do with what they will.
MME will kick off this year's LAB series on June 4 just as the collective is coming off a successful ten-city tour with stops that included SXSW in Austin, a two-night performance in Denver and an unexpected trip to Los Angeles for a last-minute show. Not only did the group sell of out merch, but its trip was mostly financed by a fan-funded GoFundMe campaign. "The tour gave us the strength to continue to trust ourselves," relays Mvstermind, the troupe's de facto leader.
Though a collective, each of the six members operates individually, with his own style and hip-hop sensibility. The eldest of the bunch at 24, Mvstermind produces his own records, which bring a soulful electronic edge to his real-life perspective. Ciej is also his own producer, with a lyrical tone oozing vulnerability and depth. A talented lyricist himself, Con delivers a grittiness in his voice that mirrors his disillusionment with an imperfect world, while Dante Wolfe also dwells on society's woes, utilizing his intellectualism to smoothly convey his inner thoughts. Lastly, neo-soul singer Lyrique's deep and moody voice vibrates images of love and beauty, whereas Mir distorts sounds to create an unsettling atmosphere for his bold raps. .
Together, the bond they share in music has created a brotherhood that fosters each artist's growth, while also offering opportunities for collaboration.
For the past several years, the members of MME have been trailblazers for the younger generation of local hip-hop, experimenting with new sounds, fan engagement techniques and music promotion. Within the hip-hop scene, its members have been called "little bros," a reference to their age and lack of experience, but after several years of quality releases and artistic growth, they're proving themselves ready for the next step. Mvstermind admits as much, saying, "We are finding ourselves and close to being ourselves."
In tapping MME for LAB's June 4 installment, Deichmann notes their multidisciplinary hustle with streetwear designers, multimedia creators and other music producers. The LAB series offers a platform for MME's members to wholly represent themselves through sound and video; it will be a coming-out show of sorts for fans, family and fervent music lovers.
All six members will perform solo acts, a chance for each to shine in his own right before coming together with a final group set. The show will also serve as a release party for ciej's EP dbs heaven, as well as Con's partnership with producer Michael Franco that created their She EP. MME also expects to debut never-before-heard tracks and bring several surprise guests to share the stage.
Though the performances will be the highlight, the collective is committed to creating an experience beyond music for the audience. Working with visual artist Mike Bishop, a custom visual projection from an amalgamation of MME video footage will be visible throughout the Luminary. Additionally, MME has partnered with streetwear designer Civil Ape to create a summer clothing line of merchandise and apparel, from tie-dye baseball jerseys to custom screen-printed t-shirts, that will be debuted in a fashion show. Prints from MME tour photographer Cory Miller, hand-made pizza from sponsor and Cherokee Street resident Master Pieza and physical copies of multiple MME releases will also be for sale.
The LAB event, promises Lyrique, "will be the defining moment to the start of MME's career." Witness the event on June 4 at The Luminary (2701 Cherokee St). Performances start at 9 p.m. and entry costs $5. For more information, visit MME's website at mmettmldom.com. To learn more about The Luminary and its programs, visit theluminaryarts.com.
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