Near the end of his set, Missoula, Mont.-based rapper Tyler Bugatti, aka Overtime
, struck the heart of the matter. He and the other performers at Liquid on Nov. 7 weren’t trying to emulate some bling-bling fantasy, he told the crowd. Instead, they were trying to build something for themselves better than the mundane drudgery whence they’d come.
“All we’re doing is chasing a dream here,” Overtime said.
That comment—and the raps about battling social anxiety and depression which preceded it—brought the spirit of the show into focus. Each act on this stop of Overtime and Illest Uminati
’s Quality Control tour worked both to draw from hip-hop conventions and to make them their own. The results were mixed, but the effort itself made for a good show, overall.
Although attendance for the Liquid show built to a respectable 70 or so, the crowd’s reaction to the first two acts was surprisingly tame.
“I need everybody up for this shit!” Spokane, Wash. rapper Epik
shouted. Almost everyone stayed in their seats. Some rapid-fire spitting and beatboxing did little to stir the crowd. Even a catchy, funny ode to marijuana seemed to fall on deaf ears (“Only 10 people smoke weed every day?” Epik asked at the start).
Meridian hip-hop group Shadow of Doubt Productions
didn’t fare better. When no one responded to emcee Sixxpacc’s invitation to get up and “shake their booty,” he dropped off the stage and danced in the sitting people’s faces. The group’s high energy helped compensate for the slightly warmed-over feel of their lyrics.
The next two acts received a much more enthusiastic reception. The floor in front of the stage filled up at the start of local rapper B-Guy’s set and stayed full during local group Mental Ward Music’s set. B-Guy’s astonishingly fast flow was one of the show’s highlights, and his closing number featured some clever, grounded lyrics about growing up in Idaho. Meanwhile, Mental Ward Music brought some welcome wit to its rhymes about drinking and partying, countering them occasionally with celebrations of working hard and walking the line.
Host and local emcee Olyghost
’s flow and words weren’t quite as sharp as those of the two preceding acts, but his confidence, hooky choruses and booming, well-crafted beats put them across anyway. Only about 30 people remained to see co-headliner Illest Uminati perform, but the Spokane rapper forged ahead, bringing an understated humor to his insane-in-the-membrane lyrics and stage act.
For all of its angst and catharsis, Overtime’s night-capping set had plenty of laughs as well. “I just had an epiphany,” he said at one point. “I forgot to take a piss before I did this.”