The Kickback reboots at the Hi-Tone on Saturday, December 20th. The classic hip-hop music appreciation class/get-down is the work of DJ Devin Steel.
The first Kickback started out as a DJ-driven effort to focus on hip-hop's formative cuts from the 1980s and '90s. Then they added some curveballs and a live drummer. And it was good.
"It ended up being a jam session." Steel says. "We've added a little more band."
Steel will perform with DJs Hou Hefner, Chris Superman McNeil, and Suzie. They form a full apocalyptic foursome of working DJs whose roots run deep into these sounds.
"This is music we grew up with, and Memphians aren't exposed it to when they go out," Steel says. "We don't get to play a lot [of this] at normal gigs. You'll get Outkast and Run DMC, but Hall & Oats and Rick James [too]. It's a nice mash-up of a capellas and instruments. Its easy to play, but to do it with a group of DJs who have the ability to go deep and a four turntable set up, there's no better feeling."
About that feeling ... if you need more if it, you should tune into "Rapper's Delight." Former Flyer writer Andria Lisle hosts the new WEVL show that mines the golden age of hip-hop.
Lisle, a music journalist, label impresario, and communications ninja for the Brooks, has long been captivated by Memphis rap and hip-hop. After a lifetime of listening, she noticed a gap in the WEVL schedule and jumped into it.
"There was this dark underground element that reminded me a lot of punk rock," Lisle says. "It had a very similar energy. The rap scene here reminds me a lot of the wrestling scene. You've got band guys and good guys, and there's so much mythology. That always made it really fun."