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New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop EDM


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"We Must Always Remember Southpaw"

I’ve spent the entire five years I’ve lived in New York attending Southpaw’s longest running monthly party, The Rub. Recently I’ve been blessed to rock Southpaw’s stage alongside my good friend and collaborator Illustrate of On Board Productions. On Thursday February 9th we’ll be opening for Action Bronson in what will be one of the last live hip hop shows Southpaw will ever host.
The news of Southpaw’s closing has hit the hip hop community like a ton of bricks. Jah C, who does booking, marketing, and management for Southpaw chalks the sale up to the changing times, increased competition, and declining cultural support. Park Slope has become a more family-centric neighborhood over the years, so perhaps it is fitting that the venue was bought by a firm called New York City Kids, which plans to turn it into a youth tutoring center. As for owners Mikey Palms and Matt Roff, they’ll be focusing their efforts on Public Assembly, their other venue in the less family oriented neighborhood of Williamsburg.
“Southpaw was created with the blood sweat and tears (of its) two visionary owners ” says Jah C, who has been a part of the Southpaw team for five years now. Palms and Roff bought the venue ten years ago — long before Park Slope was what it is today — hoping to build an oasis for Brooklynites who didn’t want to go to Manhattan and spend a fortune to hear good music. Originally more of an indie rock venue, Jah C has converted Southpaw into one of New York’s premiere Hip Hop venues. Although does not cater exclusively to the genre, it has been instrumental in keeping the culture alive in New York City.
“The owners of Southpaw were always very supportive of hip-hop, and let us play whatever we wanted, and that’s hard to find in a nightclub” says DJ Ayres of The Rub. One of his favorite memories is of bringing the legendary DJ Premier to the party to surprise the crowd. AAlthough The Rub will be moving to The Bell House next month, losing Southpaw is a great loss. ”We never wanted to have to move the party and always felt that Southpaw, it’s staff, and it’s owners were essential to The Rub’s success.”
I’ve had the privilege of speaking to a number of emcees who have all expressed deep gratitude for Southpaw’s involvement in their careers.
The first person I reached out to was Mayhem Poet and emcee Kyle Rapps, whom Illustrate and I shared the stage with at the Idle Warship show in 2010. “I think I’m basically a regular at this point and I’ve really gained a lot of my NYC following based on performing there,” says Rapps. He recalls opening for Joell Ortiz in 2010 as one of the highlights. “Joell Ortiz tore that shit down, right before Slaughterhouse signed to Shady Records. The spot was packed to the brim and everybody lost their minds that night.” Kyle also threw his ON AIR mix tape release show hosted by Homeboy Sandman last fall. “[It] was a special time for me, because it was in the middle of a torrential downpour, and mad people still showed up. Experiencing that much support is something I’ll always remember.”
My good friend Jesse Abraham has organized quite a few shows at Southpaw with his partner PremRock under their company, Skill or Be Skilled. He’s held shows there with heavyweights such as Fresh Daily, Kosha Dillz and Top $ Raz. One of my personal favorite memories was watching he and PremRock open for Skyzoo last summer. A night that stands out for him was seeing YC the Cynic open for Kendrick Lamar. “Packed house, lots of fans to be won over, and my man really came through like a pro. Watching YC, as a friend and as a fan, was super inspiring.” The hands down best show Jesse’s seen as a fan was the Baked Goods show in 2010. “The whole AOK Collective came out and just went bonkers for like two hours. Homeboy Sandman, 8thW1, Fresh Daily, P. So – they all went off. The Sleepwalkas came out and killed it. And on that same night I Am Many, So Soon, and Likwuid all rocked as well…so many incredible acts, who all became good friends of mine. That was a wild adventure of an evening.”
Although Likwuid has been on the Southpaw stage too many times to remember, some of her highlights are opening for Rah Digga and Eternia in 2011, and Bilal and Donwill in 2009. She performed there for the final time last Sunday which doubled as her birthday party. When I asked her to share a standout performance she witnessed as a fan, the first thing that came to mind was seeing Homeboy Sandman perform The Carpenter for the first time at the 2Hungry Bros No Room for Dessert show is 2010. “I had chills. I kept thinking…when is Sand gonna breathe?”
Jah C’s favorite performances as an emcee were a three way tie. The first was the Aquarian Inauguration Celebration for Barack Obama’s Election. It was the first time he’d ever sold out the club, both floors. Homeboy Sandman hosted, and Jah C did two sets. “The energy was family oriented and purposeful.” The second was for Kendrick Lamar’s NY headlining debut, “I don’t know if I’ve ever felt a more electric energy at a hip hop show. That night I felt light as a feather on stage.” His third was the night Illustrate and I were lucky enough to share the bill with him and Jaison Spain. It was his last performance as a rapper, opening for Idle Warship . “Talib Kweli reached out to me to do the show. I was honored. Lyor Cohen came to watch us.” Jah C recalls way too many incredible shows to list here. “Best is difficult because I don’t see music competitively, at its core, every artist is infinitely unique”. The support and enthusiasm he has for the art are indicative of the movement he has helped to build.
So what now? We’re clearly all feeling what is going to be an incredible loss for Hip Hop artists and fans in New York. “Southpaw’s closing is a signifier that it’s time independent artists find a more sustainable way to gain support for this music scene of ours.” Says Jesse Abraham. “It’s very rare that an underground act has a venue in NYC filled with fans – usually it’s a venue ‘filled’ with friends/supporters/associates/note-takers.
Southpaw brought a lot of elements to the table that other venues don’t bring, as it walked that camouflaged line between mainstream and underground.” Of course there will be other venues to fill the void that Southpaw will leave behind.
As Kyle Rapps says, ”we’re like roaches; we will pop up somewhere and continue to thrive!” But as DJ Eleven of the Rub recognizes, other venues will never be able to capture Southpaw’s magic.
“At any rate, I think the important responsibility of the hip hop community is to REMEMBER Southpaw,” says Likwuid. ”We have a tendency not to document our history and end up letting someone else tell the story for us.” Although Hip Hop will continue to roam near and far, we must always remember Southpaw.
Special thanks to:
Cosmo Baker
DJ Ayres
DJ Eleven
Jah C
Jesse Abraham
Kyle Rapps
- Iheartdilla

"Action Bronson @ Southpaw"

Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire and Action Bronson shared a bill at Southpaw last night (2/9) with support from Soul Kahn and Kyle Rapps, and included special guest Illustrate. They were joined on stage by El-P, Despot, and Kool AD & Heems of Das Racist, who are all featured on eXquire's "Huzzah" remix (where was Danny Brown?!). Action Bronson has a show tonight in Austin, where he will return in March for SXSW.
Last night's show was one of the last at Southpaw, which is closing this month. Their website lists shows happening through February 19, including M.A.K.U. Soundsystem and I Jah Bones TONIGHT (2/10). Tickets for tonight' show are available. There's also a huge show presented by iHeart Dilla taking place on February 15, billed as "One Song: A Forever Fresh Farewell to Southpaw," with Nitty Scott, Illustrate (who was a guest at last night's show), Warren Britt, Jesse Abraham, Top $ Raz, MC Eleven, Tanya Morgan, and many others. The flier for this show with all the performers listed is below. - Brooklyn Vegan

"Illustrate-Back on the Juice"

Having little to do with the use of steroids, "Back On The Juice" is the corrupted brainchild of Illustrate himself. Sure to be one of the more entertaining albums of the summer. For those who appreciate hip-hop, these humorous and satirical tales will certainly tantalize listeners, leaving them quite entertained.

Brand new album from Illustrate. I think that "Take 'Em Down" joint featuring Fresh Daily is insane! Download and tracklist down bottom.

Read more:
- SuperOfficial

"Illustrate-Back On The Juice"

Found this guy (thanks to Fresh Daily's blog) and it's pretty decent.

Not to be confused with the UK's Illustrate [aka Ollie Bates].

Anyway, both these cats share their similarities: [yeah, they're both white boys...] both have skills on the mic when it comes to weaving lyrical stories as well as being crafty with the production tools and cooking up a sick beat.

Interesting... - That's Exage (C-Stylez)

"Illustrate, Back On The Juice"

He raps. He's white. He's Jewish. oy-vey?

Jewish rappers range from the most lauded to the laughed at. Lucky for Illustrate he's got Paul Barman's bars without the über-dork flow and a casual nasal flow comparable to Cool Calm Pete - who I realize is not Jewish, but I could not think of an analogous Beastie Boy.

Illustrate got his start with the Zyron Collective, which must have been some super underground, strictly known on Long Island hip hop. He broke off to do the solo thing and began crafting Back On The Juice. Featuring production pulled from Sifunk and Garmunkle's Blooperz beat tape, Illustrate has a strong command of his wordplay, which he utilizes for tales of being the lesser man in altercations. His Larry David-like story on "The Look" is a classic case of wishing the "pen is mightier than the sword" had some relevance in bar fights.

Apologies go out to Illustrate for not listening to and covering his record before the end of June. Had we heard this closer to its release date, it would have definitely been on our celebrated list for the month.

Back On The Juice features guest spots from Fresh Daily (hopefully, no beef with our blog) and Strictly Business. Download the album here. - Impose Magazine (Blake Gillespie)


Back On The Juice-available for download at

Patronma (Chaz Van Queen feat. Illustrate)- available for download at

1 For You, 1 For Me to be released in May 2012



Drawing inspiration from 80's horror films, abstract sounds, and the voices in his head, Illustrate has emerged to produce music that will intrigue and elate his listeners. Illustrate exudes his self-depricating humor, attachments to hip-hop's counterculture, and belief in sincere art through his music. The Long Island raised Illustrate, born Josh Board, made his debut in the trio, Zyron Collective. Since the release of Welcome to Planet Zyron, and the Summer Slam Mixtape featuring their singles Last Time, and Do It!, Illustrate has parted ways with the group in order to pursue his solo career.

His debut album, Back on the Juice, explores his stellar narrative abilities, which are matched by his tongue-twisting lyricism. The tone of the album takes on an eerie and gritty feel, emitting a sense of chaos that represents Illustrate's frustration with the way music has lost much of its artistic value. Currently, Illustrate is recording his second album, set to release in the fall of 2011.

Illustrate has also begun his own production company (On Board Productions). He has not only booked artists such as Das Racist, Talib Kweli, Homeboy Sandman, Vast Aire, and Body Language, but performed along side them.

Music Video: