Usually known for it’s rock ‘n’ roll tendencies, the Blank Club hosts a rare hip-hop show for SVSX on Saturday featuring battle rapper Dirtbag Dan, up-and-coming San Jose MC Antwon with Cities Aviv, DJ Ichy the Killer and G.I.F.T.
12:30am, Blank Club
Dirtbag Dan was born in San Jose as Daniel Martinez. He first got onstage when he was 14 years old and saw LSP (Kung Fu Vampire’s old group) perform at Java Stop in San Jose. At the end of the performance, they invited the audience onstage to freestyle. His friends, knowing he liked to rap, coaxed Dan to try it. “It was the coolest thing ever. I was like, ‘I am definitely doing this. This is my thing,’” he recalls.
He recorded his first solo album, Dirt 4 $ale, in 2003, joining Thunderhut around that time, then Counter Productive a little later. Eventually, he devoted himself to Counter Productive full time. In 2005, he, Able Abilities & Skylar G found a DJ named Ichy the Killer, and the Counter Productive crew was officially complete.
Dan has earned international fame thanks to his dominance in Grind Time, the battle-rap league. Anyone who has seen him perform knows that Dirtbag Dan is impossible to ignore, having one of the weirdest rap personas. As his name suggests, he sports a thick scraggily hobo beard—and a loud, over-the-top swagger.
Antwon with Cities Aviv
11:30pm, Blank Club
San Jose rapper Antwon has been getting a lot of attention lately. In February, he released his video “Helicopter,” which mixes footage from Steve McQueen’s 1968 car-chase flick Bullitt with shots of Antwon and his crew wandering around train tracks, drinking malt liquor and eating heaping platefuls of food (color-corrected, of course, to match the vintage footage).
The video has received favorable attention from several blogs, including on Spin’s website. Yes, the video is good, but it’s backed up by a killer song, too. Antwon has a laid-back, easy flow reminiscent of Biggy Smalls, but he’s not taking himself seriously. He’ll string together a single sentence about smoking weed and eating too much food that is neither comedic nor pretentious. The driving, shuffling funk beat and blaring dissonant organ loop sound like they were plucked right out of a grindhouse movie.
Since his breakout mixtape “Fantasy Beds,” Antwon has released the equally impressive “End of Earth,” which has his latest single, “Living Every Dream.” The video looks like an authentic relic from the VHS era and contains an infectious sample from the famous DNA remix of Susan Vega’s “Tom’s Diner.” Keep your ears on Antwon. This is where rap is heading.
10:30pm, the Blank Club
G.I.F.T. and Bless (Ya’Soul)—two young emcees from the local hip-hop duo First Class—each bring something distinct to the table. Bless, for instance, is an intense rapper with a direct, straightforward flow. He keeps his rhymes positive and uplifting, whether he’s commenting on society or relating his personal experiences. His presence is powerful—almost intimidating. But he balances his force with thought-provoking, compassionate rhymes. G.I.F.T., on the other hand, brings a crazier, offbeat vibe. His raps are full of stream-of-consciousness associations, spun together in unusual rhythms, connecting every loose peculiar idea he has floating around in his head in a clever manner, mixing humor and down-to-earth charm.
Together, G.I.F.T. and Bless combine their strengths into a full-on, well-rounded attack. Even as they work together, they are always working off of each other—in direct competition to see who can spit the best verses. It’s been this way since the beginning, since they first met at age 13 and started writing songs together. The name “First Class” was their way of saying that their skills—when combined—could go up against any other rapper or crew out there. They are currently managed by South Bay musician and producer “Da Hermit.”
Ichy the Killer
10pm, 12:30Am, the Blank Club
DJ Ichy the Killer, also known as Chris Larsen, got his start almost a decade ago with the hip-hop crew Counter Productive. He continues to spin for Dirtbag Dan, also from Counter Productive, and Insolence, Language Arts Crew and various other San Jose groups. In August, Ichy advanced to the final round of the online portion of the DMC DJ battle. As his online video submission demonstrates, Ichy can hold his own without anybody rapping over his beats. He’s got a strong sense of structure and a slick artistic style.