What did you think of Detroit before Eminem blew up? What was Virginia Beach like before Pharrell and Missy Elliott came out? Just boring, soulless, asphalt-covered cities, right? A lot like the place you call home?
While you might see Fort Lauderdale as a cultural wasteland, 23-year-old Jasper Delaini sees it as a place with a mighty big job opening: for regional music mogul. It's "a great opportunity rather than a setback," he says of the city's largely invisible hip-hop scene. "I want to make Broward hip-hop something to talk about."
If you've been blind to the movement that's been rumbling in small clubs and home studios 'round these parts, let Delaini show you the light -- at this weekend's Rock Bottom Hip-Hopshow, which he's promoting as "DIY rap for the eclectic listener." Delaini culled the lineup largely from his Audio Thriftshop record label -- one that he created from scratch because, well, nothing like it existed here two years ago. The label's mission statement explains: "When you buy something from a thrift shop, it has soul. You're browsing through items that were once someone's personal possessions. Things that were given as presents, taken on road trips, witnesses to abuse, stolen from stores, traded for crack, lost and found, loved deeply, released after someone died, haunted or perhaps just simply outgrown. Jaded fragments of American dream decay taken from God knows where and brought to a store near you." In other words, his company is "another pretentious independent record label who thinks they're saving the world one 12-inch at a time."
Delaini gives the lowdown on the crews who'll pack their samplers and turntables into the Fort Lauderdale Saloon on Friday. In addition to his own group, the Secondhand Outfit, there'll be live performances by the Leftoverz ("They're like warped '80s music with a lot of characters -- the class clown, the tough guy, the big mouth"), and Anonymous Syntax (a four-man group from West Palm Beach). There's also Raven (a female MC who's been winning all the local battles), ill Prophet ("a real sick artist -- this will be his first live show"), and Protoman (another battle MC). Coming from afar are Chicago's Polly Pipebomb ("riot girl anarchist hip-hop; it falls between Bikini Kill and NWA") and Jay Likewise, an MC/DJ from Oakland. Serum and Solomon -- who usually perform individually -- collaborate as Mekanical Mystik, and the 32oz Crew, who have opened for Pitbull and Common, also tear it up. If that's not enough for you, there'll be four DJs, b-boys breaking on some linoleum in the parking lot, an open-mic setup, a huge array of vinyl for sale, and graffiti artists having their way with a blank 30-foot wall. It's also your chance to schmooze Mister Delaini before he takes off, laughing all the way to Russell Simmons' bank. -- Deirdra Funcheon