Rappers who get this nerd out of the trap — plus updates on Tampa Bay hip-hop artists

By Julie Garisto

Daniel, my other half, has taken over our Spotify and Youtube accounts, eschewing my trust-fund-kid-approved playlists of Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra in favor of  Fetty Wap and O.T. Genasis.

His playlist on Spotfy is a diverse mix of hip-hop and R&B, ranging from Aesop Rock to Big Sean to Childish Gambino to Run the Jewels to J. Cole to Nikki Minaj. I’m a little late to some, but I’m starting to get current.

Boogie, who’s more intense and buggy-eyed than Lil’ Wayne, has grown on me. His “Oh My” has a big fat hook you could hang Andre the Giant’s coat on.

Chance the Rapper’s “Angels” is an ambitious track that doesn’t conform to the status quo but is equally bold, as so is his superheroic video.

 

My favorite this month is  Domo Genesis feat. Anderson .Paak‘s “Dapper,” a smooth tune with a sweet roller-skating vid.

Action Bronson is a cult sensation who along with rapping is a full-on chef who hosts a cooking show on Vice’s Munchies channel called “F*ck, That’s Delicious.” Along with being smart as a whip, the 32-year-old performer born Arian Asllani gives us this big teddy-bear nice guy vibe but can hold his own in a fight.

Bronson’s “Baby Blue” video (directed by Lil Chris) has no doubt endeared many with its Coming to America tribute the world’s most awesome revenge verse from Chance the Rapper.

Dave Burd, aka Lil Dicky, is a humorist and lovable douche who has been dubbed an anti-rap artist because he crafts rhymes about saving money and the mundane pastimes of middle class life. His track “Lemme Freak” is a brilliant sendup of suburban male sexual frustration. My favorite part is when he envisions himself a senior in the virtual reality future, calling out his wife for throwing out his shoes.

Locally, Dynasty, aka Dream Pusher, aka Lady Dy still reigns supreme. Both fierce and uplifting, she is on point with her poetry and doesn’t have one iota of inauthenticity.

Here’s her track from a few years back, “Magnificent”:

Dynasty has always been community-conscious, too. Right now she’s recruiting kids for the STAAR Program, a music and arts summer camp in June. Visit her homepage for more details.

I had the honor of being the first journalist to interview Ms. Diana Hardy more than a decade ago for the Times/tbt*. Since then, Dy has had a number of great collaborators, from Talib Kweli to Tampa Bay rapper Mike Mass, who, likewise, has an effortless flow.


Mass was recently featured in Blame Ebro as an “Artist on the Come Up.”

For those of you who appreciate having more to love, Clearwater-based Blackwell, a Blakknation Music hip-hop artist, has just released a track dedicated to the BBGs of this world:  “Thick,” featuring Shock Da world and D. Jone$. For more info go to Reverbnation.Com/blackwell612. Oh, I almost forgot: He’ll be on WTAN-AM’s “The Dawn Reese Show” Wednesday, May 11, 6-7 p.m.

Tampa favorite Breakdown, whom I was also fortunate to interview when he first hit, is working on a new album.

Here’s what he had to say about it:

“Quite a few of songs deal with my interactions with different women, so I touch on love, heartbreak, unrequited feelings, dating, etc. A couple songs deal with the frustration of just working full time and still trying find time to devote to writing music. So a lot of it’s dark, but there are a few songs about typical-rapper stuff. I actually composed all of the music first. Some of the songs started with samples from punk, emo, and melodic hardcore bands and the other songs started from original guitar riffs I wrote. There’s some faster tempo stuff and almost drum and bass on a few songs.”

Here’s a vid for “Been a Minute” from his last release a couple of years ago, So Far Away. Directed and animated by Ranmecca, the track can be downloaded for free criticalbreakdown.com.

Looking forward to hearing from you again Breakdown. It’s indeed been a minute.

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Broadway tour of Matilda the Musical brings the endearingly twisted wit of Roald Dahl to the Straz Center

The winner of four Tony Awards continues its run through Sunday. Review by Julie Garisto.

Matilda the Musical, a Dickensian-lite tale of a young genius who uses the power of her mind to defy unfortunate circumstances, can be seen through Sunday at the Straz Center of Performing Arts in downtown Tampa.

From its first note, the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel charms with ear-wormy Oliver!-style anthems and darkly cartoonish characters, like those in Tim Burton (Nightmare Before Christmas) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children) movies. Skewed Scrabble tiles pile high in a surreal backdrop as a mostly young cast entertains with impeccable choreography and vocal harmonies.

Matilda the Musical follows the childhood of precocious and imaginative British girl born to boorish parents (Quinn Mattfield and Cassie Silva) who horribly mistreat her. Their crass neglect and verbal abuse, and the scowling and ridiculously mean headmistress of Matilda’s school (portrayed hilariously by male actor David Abeles) are over-the-top funny.

The show’s star Lily Brooks O’Brient belted out admirably in the title role. (The actress alternates dates with Sarah McKinley Austin in the title role.) Jennifer Blood as sweet Miss Honey gives the show’s most heart-rending turn and also gives a mighty vocal performance. The only disappointment performance-wise is that we don’t see more of Jamaican librarian Mrs. Phelps (Esther Antoine).

Matilda‘s adorably talented ensemble of schoolchildren make the musical a must-see for families and anyone who grew up reading Dahl books. The show rouses with a spirited rebellion and mischievous defiance of a miserable status quo — and a tongue-in-cheek dash of satire Dahl fans have enjoyed in classics like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. The verbal cleverness of Dahl is abbreviated in the theater version, of course, but the musical has more heart than the film adaptation starring Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman.

Sound technical issues marred Wednesday night’s production at the Straz’s Morsani Hall. Volume and high-end distortion made the British accents a little tougher to follow.

Future audiences should be dazzled by the special effects in Matilda the Musical. Pyrotechnic lights, explosive sounds and a beautiful silhouetted cut-out animation are some of the show’s highlights. There’s one more audience-involved complement, but I won’t give that away. The surprise is too special (and colorful).

The orchestral score is a star of the show that deserves mention. The tunes are catchy and incorporate gypsy jangle and classic melodies — one even rocks.

Sadly, the book feels somewhat slapdash. This touring production is a little too long, like so many of Broadway’s family-friendly, commercially driven productions these days. Presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers (!), it could use some serious tightening up.

Some takeaways : You can always rewrite your own story, everyone needs a little love and tenderness, and perhaps, most relevant, ignorance should never be tolerated from our authority figures.

Also, I’d be remiss not to mention Tampa’s Event Show Productions performers (inspired by Matilda’s imagination) who perform outside the lobby pre-show. They were a surprising treat.

Click here for showtimes and ticket info. 

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Tampa’s road to nowhere, aka Northwest Commerce Park

This blog is a first in a destination series called Strange Corners & Surprising Detours.

Photos: © Daniel Veintimilla

If you’ve ever traveled west on Hillsborough Avenue, you may have been confused by a sign beckoning northbound Veterans Expressway that’s posted just by the on-ramp, immediately after a turn that does not lead to the highway.

Maybe you noticed the tricky optical illusion in time the first time you saw it, or maybe, like me, you had to take a U-turn. Did you ever wonder what lies at the end of that road? Well, nothing … sort of.

One afternoon last November, curiosity and feverish procrastination overcame me en route home to Clearwater. Danny, my photographer bf and I decided to take the by TIA and Memorial/Veterans highways and see if we could somehow criss-cross some office parks and get back on a main road.

No doing. The road, Jet View Circle is just that, a circle, that takes you into the Northwest Commerce Park, an office/industrial park owned by Eastgroup Properties.

 

northwest 1

The park is apocalyptic. If you dare to drive there — which may or may not be trespassing (sorry, officer, we didn’t know) — an eerie, otherworldly aura permeates the park’s weird backdrop of suburban decay. Wooden shingles dangle from its very 1980s-style rooftops. Blunt wrappers blow in the breeze. We didn’t see one discernible business in operation, but seemingly functioning satellite antennas could be spotted, and a surreal array of graffiti warded off trespassers and depicted crazy cartoon characters on its exterior walls.

northwest 19

 

Danny and I joked about how the park looked like the headquarters of some secret operation —dirty DEA or cop drug stashes, CIA weapons and holding areas, Mafia storage? The possibilities were intriguing. (Sidenote: If I wind up mysteriously missing, this blogpost may be why!)

Jokes aside, the least compelling scenario usually corresponds with reality. Most likely, Eastgroup is holding onto the properties until some moneybags developer comes along.

The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce wrote on its website that “the W. Hillsborough Avenue corridor between Town ‘n Country and Oldsmar is another hotbed of development, with thousands of high-end apartments, condos and single family homes slated to begin construction within the next few years.”

In the meantime, Northwest Commerce Park is an intriguingly desolate twilight zone that would make a great backdrop for a zombie horror film. Maybe if we stayed long enough, we would have seen some walkers.

One more thing: If you venture inside the complex and travel to its far east end, you can get a great view of a TIA landing strip.

See below for a gallery of photos from the park.

 

 

 

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