Catch me on the freeway, 110 South ‘til it ends at Bridgetown, USA
– Blu & Exile “Simply Amazin”
In a quiet hillside neighborhood, the amber colored lights of El Principe lit the streets for BLU, San Pedro’s rap king, to return to his humble small-town roots. The Bridgetown Homecoming also featured performances from local stalwarts Block Scholars, Cashus King, Yuckee, SPVCE, and Mike G.
Street Status Studios organized a night of homegrown talent and implored the local residents to celebrate their champions from around the block. El Principe is known for hosting live bands and karaoke, so this hip-hop show was an alternative twist from their usual events.
As I walked in the nightclub, I was amazed at the colorful murals that covered the walls – the neon paint was accented by the black lights, which emulated a psychedelic vibe for all to experience. The sounds provided by DJ Lapaz created a party atmosphere, for the women enjoying their buckets of beer, while also respecting the hip-hop lovers in the crowd.
I didn’t have much downtime before the host called Mike G to the stage to kick off the night. His quick set gained attention from the guys playing pool in the back of the club. Halfway into his performance, he introduced new music produced by fellow Odd Future alumni Leftbrain – the sound system highlighted the eerie and deep bass production. While debuting the new music, Mike G slipped up on his lyrics but bounced back with no problem. His performance left me wanting to hear more from his new output.
The next performance was energized by the Block Scholars. This trio calls San Pedro their hometown and the local crowd showed them lots of love. The three emcees traded verses and slapped hands with the enthusiastic people in the audience. Seasoned veterans is what I would call them after watching their showmanship and signature production.
As the clock neared 11:40pm, renowned bassist Yuckee took the stage. Although, he is known as a supporting member of alternative reggae rock band Special Blend – this instance he was backed by DJ Kut Kaper. Yuckee is now exploring his love for rap and focusing on a solo career. His blend of boom-bap beats and introspective rhymes made fans get closer to the stage to take in the vibes. At one point, Yuckee made his way into the crowd to give the crowd that face-to-face interaction and created a deeper connection to his music. His set was met with applause and appreciation.
The conclusion of a Yuckee’s set was met with a fan favorite track from JayLib. This set up a great alley-oop for one of the special guests of the night and an exceptional producer set from Donel Smokes. Smokes used the Roland SP-404 like a wizard concocting specialty spells to snap the necks of every person in the crowd. Their heads bobbed in unison and bodies swayed to every filtered sample and beat drop. As a frequent collaborator with BLU, Smokes production fell in line with the soundscape of the event’s headliner.
30 minutes after midnight, Cashus King graced the stage and brought his thought-provoking lyrics to the forefront. He was wearing a shirt that featured an iconic image of LA rap legend, Tupac Shakur – the stark similarities of their ideals and lyrical content reminded me why I supported Coss (King’s former pseudonym) in the mid-2000’s. He was backed by SPVCE on the turntables and their chemistry was on full display. To get a grasp on King’s musical offerings, check his latest album “Lost in the Wilderness”.
The night had reached its tipping point, when the hometown hero BLU invited everyone to the front of the stage. He was met with cameras, “bridgetown” chants, and a clamorous welcome. The smile on BLU’s face, while kicking off his set with last year’s Fatlip-assisted “Gangsta Rap”, was great to see. He then jumped into “The West” a familiar tune (produced by Bombay) from his 2014 ‘Good To Be Home’ album. BLU’s appetizer provided an opportunity to bring the supporting acts Block Scholars and Donel Smokes to the stage and perform a posse cut that cemented the hometown brethren’s legacy.
The crowd erupted when Exile joined BLU to perform “Simply Amazin’” – it was great to see these two trade verses, and more than likely you will be able to catch BLU & Exile perform together very soon. Overall, BLU’s Bridgetown Homecoming was adrenaline-pumping night for San Pedro’s hip-hop scene. Hopefully, more shows in the area will inject the energy needed to sustain the platform for others to ascend. Peep more flicks from the show below: