This was it. The penultimate Crate Session! It just happened that I was free that night, and since Walimat Wardeh was not going to be around for long, I decided to make the most of it while I still could.
It was supposed to be White Trees tonight, the duo of Carl Gerges (Mashrou3 Leila drummer) and Paul Tyan, but for some reason they pulled out. So instead they managed to book the Lebanese-Palestinian rap duo I-Voice (I for Invincible). It would be the first purely hip hop act to take part in the Crate Sessions, because when RGB came with
Zeid Hamdan and Hiba El Mansouri on the very first of the sessions, it was a mix of acoustic-rock-ska-reggae and hip hop.
But just so I get this out early on, I am not really a huge fan of I-Voice to begin with, so I wasn’t really expecting a certain quality of performance from them that they may or may not have delivered. I was just an unbiased spectator.
-Before the Show: I got there a bit early, 9:15-ish, and I was surprised to find the place quite empty save for a couple people, among them were Serge Yared (The Incompetents) and the previous night’s guest on Ziad Nawfal’s radio show “Ruptures”, the Canadian producer of Lebanese heritage, Radwan Moumneh (both of whom will be playing at The Basement this Sunday).
Yassine and TNT (I-Voice) were both there, but there wasn’t much of a crowd, so they didn’t go on until about half an hour later.
-The Show: Eventually they started. The setup was a mixer connected to the Crate, and connected to the mixer itself, two microphones and a laptop.
I’m not familiar with all their songs, but I happened to know that the first one was called “Malnash”. They were very energetic, and in general, I feel like they have “rap-voices”. What I mean by that is, usually a rapper has good rhymes and all, but doesn’t have the voice and personality. They however have good voices, each with their own unique one.
Most of the beats were pretty good. Yassine makes his own beats himself and I like how he uses middle-eastern samples, though that’s not really so innovative anymore these days.
The crowd was not a hip hop crowd per-se. In the past, when RGB took the floor, he tried to treat the people like a hip hop crowd, but the reaction too wasn’t that strong. The people that go to Walimat are there for mellowness usually. Some don’t feel the need to get involved with the music and just continue eating their meals, hip hop or otherwise. But it just happens that hip hop relies heavily on rapper-audience interaction, so that could be affected in this particular setting. Well, this applied that night. Though there was plenty of head-nodding and foot-tapping and they did get the audience to participate by yelling “ta7iyyati” whenever they were instructed to in the song of the same name.
I know the reason for this next thing I’m going to comment on, but I should bring it up nonetheless: Every song was ended quite abruptly by Yassine having to stop the music manually. I later found out that they weren’t the final tracks and stuff like that, but it really didn’t help set a mood.
-After the Show: It was far from terrible, yet short of spectacular. At least hip hop was finally represented at the Crate Sessions, but if you ask me, I would have preferred handing that duty over to someone like Fareeq el Atrash, because I feel like the fact that they play their music live would have gotten at least a handful of the patrons curious (like RGB did when he was rapping to Zeid’s guitar playing). They were actually offered to play a Crate Session way back, but were busy preparing for other things. They’re one of the many acts playing in the final Crate Session, so I would definitely advise you to stop by and check them and some of the other great artists out next Tuesday (December 29th) as each will cover 2-3 songs of their choice (it’s for charity too!).
*By Tanya Traboulsi:
-For more on I-Voice: http://www.myspace.com/theivoicee
-For more info on The Crate Sessions: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=118734329783&ref=ts
-For more info on the final Crate Session: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=118734329783&ref=ts#/event.php?eid=243254402323&ref=ts