The Spin: DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad @ Gallery East



Photo by Tanya Wright

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We’ll be honest with you: There were times this weekend where we felt like Nero—rockin’ a B-boy stance as Rome burned. Between Gas-pocalypse, Finance-ageddon and a so-so presidential debate, our “party for the right to fight” spirit had been kinda drained.

But the turbulent socio-political climate could have been why the 5 Points Invasion art show at Gallery East was such a laid-back spot to be on Saturday night. Sure, we'd hoped for more off-the-chain revelry due to the presence of Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the legendary DJ/producer from A Tribe Called Quest, but the group head-nod therapy was just what the doctor ordered.

The night started off with an exhibition of the ill, spray-and-stencil graffiti prints by WorkForce Rebellion. We were about to buy the Jam Master Jay portrait when we saw the awesome “Gas Is the New Gold” series and realized that, damn it, we were super broke and drunken art purchases might not be the best plan of action.

Luckily, Kidsmeal, Wick-It and the Lovenoise SoundSystem had the bailout for The Greatest Depression that’s hanging around our bank statements. The two sets of DJs volleyed the crowd back and forth from inside the gallery to the outdoor patio for most of the night. Which wasn’t a surprise given the heavy riddims being lobbed from both sides. The Lovenoise crew kept it hot outside with a set heavy on true-school classics and backpack hits, while the Kids-Wick-Meal-It team took the “hip-hop as fine art” concept to heart, veering between now-sound future tones and retro boogaloo-breaks.

Honestly, a pretty rad choice in sounds if you ask us—maybe even too rad for the sparse crowd at the beginning of the night. Mr. Muhammad brought as much heat as we had hoped for, uniting the migrating crowd for a set full of Tribe tunes, ‘90s New York hardcore classics and neo-soul hits. It was a smooth close-out to a tumultuous week that left us with a smile and the feeling that Nashville’s underground hip-hop scene may be taking its very first steps toward a Golden Age all its own.

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