A "classic" Artifakt T.
Given the peripatetic state of my adult existence, the whole notion of snuggling up close and cuddling with whatever city I find myself in during any given year and calling it “home” is anathema to my whole life philosophy. Wait…did I just say “life philosophy”? Oh, I hate myself. Indeed, were I back home in Tampa, uttering those two words together would earn me a swift and punishing beat-down from my atavistic, knuckle-dragging pals. And rightfully so.
All praise to DJ Hanibal, the wizard behind the tables--and the curtain.
Thing is, I have an excuse for feeling as giddy as a coked-out virgin on prom night, and that excuse is the best Seattle party you’ve never heard of—the Artifakt Graf Hip-Hop Show, held on Friday, June 13, at the LoFi Performance Gallery (429 Eastlake Ave.). This monthly soiree celebrates all that is holy about hiphop culture, from fashion to art to DJing to live MCing, all of the cutting-edge, underground variety—meaning: the most interesting. More importantly, it makes this cold, gray, wet gym sock of a town a more pleasing place, as it fosters a little thing called “community.” (The funky-soul smackdown “The Get Back,” held on the first Friday of each month, did the same for me in my last home, the neon dustbowl, AKA Las Vegas. Googlers who find my piece on “The Get Back” in the LA Times will note that I referred to it, too, as the “best party you’ve never heard of.” I recycle lines, because, frankly, I have so few of them stored in my wee brain. Please, don’t make fun of me because I’m slow.) And the party earns bonus points in my beer-stained book for being populated by some serious boozers, of which I am a proud, slurring member. Further bonus points are awarded for attracting some awfully sexy people, which, let’s face it, Seattle is in rather short supply of. Don’t shoot the messenger….
Life Cycle takes you to a happy place.
Upon arriving and snuggling up to the bar, I was greeted by Alejandro G, the friendly, articulate chief spokesdude for Artifakt, an arts collective (“arts” not being limited to paint splashed, or in this case, sprayed on canvases), which, according to its website (www.artifaktart.org), “aims to promote up-and-coming artists and musicians in a variety of styles and genres.” Alejandro took me around the dark, cavernous LoFi (which is an art-object in and of itself; it’s a kind of haunted house for culture-starved adults--you’re constantly surprised by the new--with--bonus alert!--two bars). He showed me the various booths set up in the smaller front room and introduced me to the hard-toiling, hard-drinking folks jamming in the larger back area, home to a “stage” and an upstairs nook perfect for guzzling champagne and generally feeling superior to all those beneath you—my favorite hobby.
Scoping out the booths’ offerings, not to mention the paintings hung on the walls and the three acts who performed (more on that later), was like opening a treasure chest and doing dolphin rolls in piles of gold bullion, laughing and flapping your flippers at the options now before you. There was the booth stocked with Artifakt Ts and CDs and another stocked with those by Dope Style Clothing. The latter has been pushing its brand in the culture's fickle zone by sponsoring local MCs such as Grieves, Grynch, and some on the Sportin’ Life label. It has a fresh approach to streetwear more than worthy of a gander (visit www.thedopestyle.com for more info).
About the music: DJ Hanibal twice served deck duty, warming up the crowd in the backroom by dusting off classics such as Goodie Mob’s “Cell Therapy,” and, later, as turntablist-in-chief for Life Cycle, a Tacoma-born, Seattle-based hiphop group comprised of, besides Hanibal, brothers (the blood kind) Burn One and JoshuaJ. This month’s installment of the soiree was the trio’s CD release party for their debut City of Rust, an album so fun it makes you want to head to the beach and smack a big girl on her bottom. It has its serious moments, too, but it’s free from patina of age-related disease its title suggests. (Check out www.myspace.com/lifecycle465 for more info and to hear some sample tracks.)
Myke Hedgecock and Derek Lechy of Dope Style Clothing. Can't remember who's who--too drunk. Apologies.
The final performer was drum-and-bass jock Eliot Lipp (who also makes an appearance on Life Cycle’s “Keep it Simple”, and who you can find at http://www.myspace.com/eliotlipp). I’m shamed to admit that I’d never heard of the Tacoma-born, Brooklyn-based DJ before, but, motherfucker, is he talented—a true sonic ringleader, no muss, no fuss. (Thanks, Hanibal, for bringing him out!) Champagne bubbles popping in my ears notwithstanding, the whirlpooling effect of his ambient electronica greased heavily with hiphop and a whole bunch of other heart-pounding shit doubtlessly scrubbed clean the rotten souls of many in attendance, such was the purifying impact of his organized instrumentation. Even better, his flair extended beyond tinkering with that which was on the table, and into movements (think a slightly more subdued Donald Glaude) born of an enjoyment known only to those of us who do what we want to do for a living. No cubicle-ing, no rat-racing, no compromising—that’s the credo, and it makes for a pretty decent life. Maybe I’ll stay after all.