One of the greater travesties in hip-hop history is realizing how little Project Blowed will be remembered in that history. I'm not expecting VH1 to dedicate a Hip-Hop Honors show to the Blowed. But it'd be nice if anyone that knew about Talib Kweli also knew about Aceyalone.
But let's backtrack a bit. Project Blowed -- along with its predecessor, the Good Life Cafe -- was a weekly open mic spot in L.A. that was prominent in the '90s. Both Blowed and Good Life birthed a scene of left-field underground artists, including Aceyalone, Myka 9, Jurassic 5 and many others. As its reputation grew, it attracted the interest of many artists like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Biz Markie.
More importantly, it basically laid the foundation for underground "backpack" rap on the West Coast. If you name almost any '90s underground hip-hop act from California -- the Living Legends, Blackalicious, Hieroglyphics -- they either have direct ties to the L.A. scene or otherwise seem to share a similar style. Hell, even San Diego's underground scene is very much indebted to it. Unfortunately, not enough people realize how influential Project Blowed was. The artists seemed more content inventing new styles than marketing their music. How silly of them!
But Project Blowed still pushes on as the longest running open mic night for hip-hop in the world. And years later, a new class of Project Blowedians are bringing the spotlight back to it. On Saturday, Oct. 13, Blowedian rappers Busdriver, Nocando and Open Mike Eagle will converge on the Griffin (get tickets here).
Busdriver actually comes from the old guard Blowedians. But he's enjoying a seeming career renaissance by working with the younger generation led by Nocando and Open Mike Eagle. Busdriver is known for his smart comedy emphasized by his spastic delivery and truly unique voice. He will also sometimes rhyme to standard jazz or classical pieces, just to show off that he can rap fluidly to anything even if it's not in 4/4 time like 99.99% of hip-hop. He just dropped his Arguments With Dreams EP for free download via label Big Dada.
Nocando came up from the battle circuit but has since evolved his "nerdy" battle lyrics into a smartass style. On his excellent 2010 debut, Jimmy the Lock, he set that against a backdrop of angular instrumentals in the vein of the Low End Theory beat scene (which makes perfect sense -- at the time, he was the resident host and MC of the now-thriving weekly instrumental night). Open Mike Eagle is a personal favorite of mine, the "smartest broke dude ever" who raps and sings in a calm, whisper-like deadpan that accentuates the biting comedy in his lyrics. Listen to "Nightmares" to make your life better.
All three will be at the Griffin on Saturday. Roll through and experience a clinic on how to flip MC styles.
Quan Vu Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog sdRAPS.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.