J. Rawls Corrals Ohio Hip Hop Love

Ill Poetic — the multitasking Hip Hop artist who made his bones in the Cincinnati and Dayton scenes and writes a monthly words-of-wisdom column for CityBeat called Hip Hop (Un) Scene — will be providing some dispatches from the road this month for us as he embarks on the J. Rawls-headlined “#Ohio Takeover Tour.” The tour (featuring a roster of Ohio acts) is an early promotional push for The Hip Hop Affect, the anticipated new release from Rawls, a renowned DJ/producer whose credits range from work on the first Black Star album to working with Madlib and The Beastie Boys. Recently, Rawls leaked the new track “We’re on Top (#ohiotakeover),” a “posse cut” featuring 23 MCs from the Buckeye State.—-

Rawls is quoted as saying, “"It took a lot of effort working around everyone's schedules, but we did it,” certainly an understatement considering the logistical challenges involved in corralling two dozen artists’ input. The track includes MCs from Akron to Cincy, including veteran Queen City squad Mood and “Brooklynati” rising stars Tanya Morgan.

As if the free track wasn’t enough, Rawls also gifted the world an Ohio-heavy mixtape showcasing the artists on “We’re on Top” and many others, including Illogic (the veteran Columbus MC who is also on the Takeover April tour), Basic Element, Fly Union and Columbus’ L.e For The Uncool, who rounds out the Takeover tour bill’s core acts.

Download “We’re on Top” here and the “#ohiotakeover” mixtape here.

The Takeover tour comes to Cincinnati April 22, hitting The Drinkery, the old Jefferson Hall space on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. The local stop is towards the end of the two-week jaunt, which gets a soft launch this Friday with a warm-up show at The Stadium in Oxford (Rawls won’t be on that bill, but Ill Poetic, Illogic and L.e For The Uncool will). April 15 the tour kicks off in earnest with a show in Columbus at Skully’s that will have Talib Kweli (a sort of honorary Ohio Hip Hop artist) on the bill.

Ill Poetic connects the dots between the Ohio bond of the multi-generational Takeover Tour participants and their shared roots in pioneering Ohio Funk, an overlooked influence in a lot of Hip Hop (and not just for Ohio artists).

“From the recognizable names (Roger and Zapp, Bootsy Collins, Ohio Players), to the lesser-known legends (Heatwave, SUN, Slave), you couldn’t turn on a radio in the country without hearing Ohio’s influence in music and culture,” he writes. “That time has passed, but generations of Ohio artists have continued to pass the flickering torch to each other, continuing the legacy their parents and grandparents proudly built decades ago. And while its sound has resonated through countless eras of music, Ohio Funk is rarely given credit as one of Hip Hop’s greatest influences.”

Each of the Takeover tour participants has been busy on new projects. Illogic is working on a follow-up to 2010’s album by his Greenhouse project with Blueprint and is said to have a free release set for after the April tour. Ill Poetic announced plans to release a series of EPs, beginning with the forthcoming Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement, featuring tracks heavily influenced by ’70s/’80s Ohio Funk and even featuring instrumental contributions from some veteran players from that era. L.e For The Uncool is building on the buzz built by his 2010 debut, The Measure, a buzz bolstered by appearances at South by Southwest and CMJ. His next album, Paper Rockets, is in the works.

For more on the tour, click here.

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