be the first to admit that I've always been hesitant to check Erk Tha
Jerk. Not like I haven't ever dug someone with a ridiculous handle –
word to Trick Daddy – but I get a lot of shit in my inbox, and
sometimes it's easiest to judge a book by the author's name. I don't
open shit from Lil Young or Young Commercial either, though perhaps I
me. Bay Area rapper Erk is a hella competent MC, capable of bridging
several sides of the Bay Area's rap landscape – all of which were
represented at this week's Audible Treats showcase. He's a smart dude
with some jumpy, dare I say dumb-catchy tracks, and even I'll admit
that rap needs more cats who inspire us to use our legs and brains.
Call it post-hyphy if you want, but I won't.
East Coast snob who digs striking beats and powerhouse bravado, I've
always shied away from more reclined Frisco acts – a clear result
of my not having seen most of them live. This show, while dotted with
sets by non-Bay acts like Black Milk (who slayed in his turn), was a
true testament to not only the skill level in northern Cali, but to
the scene's ingrained camaraderie.
first few sets that I saw melted into one another seamlessly, as Erk
blasted alongside Moe Green, and then as TRUTHLiVE joined the latter.
Though all bring different flavors – from TRUTH's justice and
Green's proletariat steeze to Erk's tomfoolery – they collaborated
with zeal and gusto, no doubt the product of their rising through the
one Nate Dogg tribute and a “Fuck Bush” salute in the bag, the
Bay gang brought up scene stalwart Mistah F.A.B. to lay it on. From
there – and I was whacked, so my order may be screwed – Zion I
and The Grouch spat selections from their next Heroes project. It's a
deep album, but one that played out exceptionally well thanks to a
receptive crowd amped on staples like Grouch's bohemian rhapsody
Grouch, and Zion I, of course, weren't the only vets in tow, as Opio
and Casual also crashed the Scoot. It was a bit disappointing that
just two Hieroglyphics showed to party, but their set, a fulfilling
mash of old, new, and unpredictable, made up for it. In fact just one
Opio freestyle was enough to make me realize why Hiero is a Bay team
that I've always gravitated to – it's because I've seen them rock
so many times.
and no other entity has the ability to turn me onto artists who I
wouldn't typically give a chance move me. Even for a cat whose album
tracks I wouldn't ordinarily appreciate, live shows come down to
straight spitting, and how fast you can think on your feet. This
whole cast – from Moe and Erk to Grouch and Hiero – delivered
like their hub depended on it. I still don't get E-40 (until further
notice, at least), but I'm pretty sure my next Cali rap trip will
bring me north of Los Angeles.