Walking through campus the other day, I spotted a team of two promoters in the distance, rapidly approaching me. Now, while I can completely understand the functional role that club promoters play in the universe of nightlife, that can’t stop me from writing that I can think of few species of human lower than your garden variety promoter. I’ve known some to be wonderful individuals, the kind of people you would be proud to call your friends. But on the average, I’d rather spend my time hanging out with ex-felons than with promoters, and so as a general rule I try to avoid them. The ubiquitous club flyers that get dropped on campus and slid under dormitory doors exhibit the most garish, repulsive sense of aesthetics. Moreover, the vast majority of these flyers promote clubs and bands that no one in their right mind would want to go see. There’s a reason they need to spend so much money on promotion. No one is spreading the word because they suck.
Well, that may all be a bit overstated, but it is fair to say that I generally try to avoid promoters, and I can only assume that most others do as well. In this particular case, I seemed to be safe, though. The guys who were approaching weren’t handing out any of the flyers in their hands. Perhaps they were just out for a stroll, I thought. But then the guy on the right made a beeline for me and pushed one of his shiny blue and yellow flyers in my hand, advertising the record release party for “the new Organic Compounds LP.”
Who knows? Maybe it was the headphones that I was prominently rocking that tipped the guy off. Perhaps it was dumb luck. But after our encounter had passed, he was left one flyer lighter, and I was left wondering why in the hell promoters need to target innocent civilians.
However, I didn’t drop the flyer. Caught in a line waiting to get my dinner, I took a glance at the back side, and to my great surprise, it piqued my curiosity. While I had never heard of Perfecto, the guy for whom this record release party was apparently being thrown, I had heard his supporting act many times. The Juggaknots are a NYC-based hip-hop crew, led by dueling MCs Breeze and Queen Heroine. Together, they make up one-half of the indie hip-hop supergroup the Indelible MCs, along with Company Flow. They first hit the national scene on Rawkus’ Lyricist Lounge Vol. 1, released in 1998, appearing with Co-Flow to provide the highlight of the two-disc set. On the strength of that appearance, and numerous 12” releases, the group made a name for themselves. In 1999, abstract hip-hop forefather Prince Paul, the mind behind De La Soul, decided to create a Tommy-like, hip-hop opera and drafted Breeze as his male lead, with Heroine cast as his girlfriend. The resulting project, A Prince Amongst Thieves, was widely acclaimed as hip-hop genius and snuck its way onto Spin’s Top 90 records of the decade list.
By now, the Juggaknots critical respect and street cred are well established. The only thing lacking is the audience. While the crew is recognized by those in the scene as laden with greasy fat, a virtue in the world of hip hop, they remain virtually unknown outside of their small core audience, despite their high-profile appearances on the Lyricist Lounge and A Prince Amongst Thieves projects. It’s not for lack of appeal, either. Breeze brings his smooth, melodic flow to bear on rhymes like “for niggas talking about lucci/must be modeling Susan/Erica Kane bitch/like, reputation for losing.”
Meanwhile, Heroine holds her own with a deliberate, monotone flow, dropping lines like “pounding like a pregnancy/with the expectancy of three times three/ use my mental nine to climb like gladiator on wall/on call like physicians to deliver ….” Together, the two create a sound that works well in tandem. It’s not that the Juggaknots do anything particularly distinctive or original. It’s that they do the indie-hip hop thing well. For that reason alone, I can’t hate the promoter who gave me that flyer. Now I’ve got something to do on Friday night.
The Juggaknots are playing with PackFM at the record release party for Perfecto’s “Organic Compounds” LP, this Friday at the Cage, 1811 14th Street between S and T.