If you are a true fan of hip-hop’s roots, DJs and underground sound, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the Boiler Room and Boiler Room TV. And if you haven’t heard of them, let me fill you in on my first Boiler Room event.
Story | Jasmine Sabagquit
The Boiler Room began in London in 2010, streaming a live DJ set in a boiler room with a camera facing a DJ and turntables. Fast forward to 2017, and you can stream the same frame, except the DJ sets are now showcased in venues all over the world from Japan, Brazil, Los Angeles and Germany. The Boiler Room has featured artists like Ta-Ku, James Blake, Just Blaze, Goldie and D.R.A.M..
Last week, the Boiler Room touched down in the Bay Area at the Starline Social Club in Oakland. And let me tell you, it was mind-blowing to say the least. The Boiler Room experience was ineffable. It’s nothing short of a musical beauty in today’s saturated market filled with mumble rappers and transient hits.
The Boiler Room taps into the fundamentals of hip-hop and celebrates its history and culture. With hip-hop being rooted in DJing, graffiti, B-Boys and rap, the Boiler Room brought it all to life in the form of visual screens and DJ sets. Imagine being at a big house party, and everyone crowds around the main performer in unison; everyone bounces to the beat, shouts to a call and response, and waves their hands in the air.
Oakland’s set brought out the the notables in Great Dane, 2015 Red Bull 3Style USA Champ and the Bay’s own DJ J Espinosa, Jurassic 5’s Cut Chemist, and Bay Area Turntablist Pioneers, Invisibl Skratch Piklz with D-Styles, Shortkut and DJ Qbert.
J Espinosa brought out the sounds and moves of The Town spinning a dope mix of Bay slaps like Mac Dre’s ‘Thizzle Dance,’ The Frontline’s ‘Now You Know,’ The Federation’s ‘Hyphy,’ and Trunk Boiz’ ‘Cupcake No Fillin.’ Later he brought out HBK Gang’s P-Lo, and he took over the mic for a couple of tracks. The party kicked up a higher notch as local turf dancers brought out their moves and got the crowd even more hyped.
Dressed in a white lab coat and backwards cap, the Cut Chemist was up next and ready to go on the turntables. He showcased his unique scratching abilities and transitions, along with his musical ear combining old school hip-hop, funk and even threw in some Beatles into his mix. He had some surprises under his coat as well, as he brought out a tongue-twisting lyricist known as Gift of Gab, who had not skipped a beat and kept his energy high.
Invisbl Skratch Pklz (ISP) closed out the show strong as the trio of D-Styles, Shortkut and Qbert displayed each of their talents side by side. It was a rare sight seeing this trio: D-Styles (Los Angeles), Shortkut (Dubai), and Qbert (Bay Area), however, their execution was in perfect synchronization.
This was my very first experience at an underground hip-hop show, and it sparked more than just a great night out. It proved that the essence of hip-hop is not dead. It’s safely tucked away, alive and well in the underground where it flourishes in the energy of its people. When you can actually hear and understand the lyrics of a rapper, rock to the beat without being squished at a club, and physically see a DJ bring it all to life, you’ll realize that hip-hop is truly alive and the Boiler Room is where it all goes down.
Check out boilerroom.tv for their latest shows, and see if they’re coming to a town near you.