Political hip-hop at USOM 

Show Review

Subsurface, Nearest Nova
United States of Mind
Sunday, Sept. 19

Indy’s busiest arts weekend closed out with a night of relaxed jazz and political hip-hop at United States of Mind on Sunday.

The Saxon Quartet started the evening with renditions of Al Green and the Isley Bros. on bass, drums, guitar and keyboards. The family act gave plenty of space for some nice solos. Then Good N’ Plenty took fans back to the ’40s with jazz drums and fancy guitar work that sounded like Charlie Christian. This talented timepiece duo is a worthy booking for jazz clubs.

Breakdancers then got down to a mix of ’80s and ’90s hip-hop spun by DJ K-TEL.

Fans jumped to the big dramatic beats of Subsurface. Hailing from “The Fortress” (Ft. Wayne), they reminisced on Blackalicious’ “A to G” when they ran down their city’s name in acronym form. They berated local radio for not playing “conscious” hip-hop. But their best material blasted Bush and the war. They sang, “Y’all know what this is about, we gotta push Bush out,” citing in another verse, “They want us to go war for a country that barely respects my people.” They gave a workingman’s perspective in one song, singing, “We don’t have the oil they need, so who’s gotta bleed? You and me.”

Nearest Nova then took the stage with a talented DJ who did more scratching than a litter of kittens. The Casbah’s Tuesday Hip-Hop Battle champion, MC Zeal, delivered rapid-fire intelligent verses over easy ’70s beats with plenty of Rhodes keyboards. They hyped the fans up in other songs, as the two MCs stepped off the stage and into the crowd. Sweat was dripping off the performers’ faces by the end of the set.

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