This past spring, the Ohio Takeover Tour brought a sampler platter of Ohio-bred Hip Hop artists to several cities across the state. Headlined by Columbus native/UC graduate J. Rawls, the club tour also featured Buckeye State artists Illogic, L.E. for the Uncool and Ill Poetic, the Dayton/Cincinnati Hip Hop MC/producer who cribs the Hip Hop (Un)Scene artist-advice column for CityBeat. Ill Po kept a journal for CityBeat on the tour, but we've held the final installment to coincide with the Ohio Takeover Tour reprise tonight on the Fountain Square. A part of the Square and local promo/production group Self Diploma's Saturday SLAM series, tonight's 7 p.m. show reunites all of the Takeover Tour's acts. (The action then moves to Main Street club Main Event for a music-filled after-party.) Below you'll find Ill Poetic's final diary entry from April's club jaunt and a video clip of highlights from the tour.—- (For those who want to get caught up, here are the links for the tour diary's Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.)
Ohio Takeover Tour Diary: Cincinnati, Friday, April 22
If no one has been noticing, it’s been raining for the past 20 years now and this week of touring was no different. The trip to Cincinnati from Columbus was hazardous, to say the least. The first show we were actually running late for and nature did not help at all.
We were all especially looking forward to Cincinnati for a number of reasons. Our first stop in Cincinnati was the Elementz Youth Center downtown. I could write an entire column on this place alone, so I’ll summarize here for those that don’t know. Elementz is a youth center (duh) off Liberty and Central Parkway that lets kids enter in to study any and everything Hip Hop: DJing, emceeing, production, graffiti, dance, etc. They’re producing an array of amazing talent that crosses an astounding palette of music. I’d been friends with Elementz’ leader Abdullah since college and reached out to him about doing something at the center before the show.
Though rain kept a lot of folks indoors (typical Cincinnati weather), we still had the opportunity to come out and talk to some of the younger artists in the city about the luxurious life of independent artists and the high level of sarcasm the lifestyle brings. After our visit, it was time to hit The Drinkery for the main event.
I was looking forward to this show more than any other show on tour (sorry "other cities"). This was my first time working in conjunction with one of my favorite (OK, my favorite) promoters in the city, Rome. Cinci folks may know him for his highly successful Clifton Heights Music Festivals over the past few years. As soon as we stepped in the venue, I think we all knew this night was going to be on point.
Everything about this night was just so top-notch, from the level of organization to the other acts on the bill. As the night passed, the spot filled with patrons, many of whom were friends I hadn’t seen in a while. This show felt like such a homecoming for me personally and may go down as one of my favorite, if not the favorite, Cincinnati show ever.
Every act brought it, with Gold Shoes giving us an amazing lead-in energy to jump off of. When Rawls hit the stage to spin, he ran through many Cincinnati classics. As soon as Holmskillit walked in, he dropped “Cincinnati.” The crowd had packed in at this point and I kind of had to pinch myself to remember that I was actually performing at this thing.
The set itself was SO Fun. All four of us had fans out, which worked amazing given the nature of our show set-up (interweaving our songs and verses together). I think we all had highlight moments on (The Drinkery) stage. One of my favorites was L.e FINALLY Performing “Polo On My Body” on this tour, and the crowd going ape-shit over it.
Everything I ever could hope for about a show was at this show. Friends from all walks of my Cincinnati life showed up; even someone I hadn’t seen since I was a child in Dayton was there. The show was packed and it was packed for the right reason. No gimmicks, just people who came to see a quality night of good music and go home with good moments and special memories.
With that said, thank you for such special moments and memories, Cincinnati. You really pushed an already fantastic experience over the top.
Ohio Takeover Tour Diary: Youngstown, Saturday, April 23
It was going to be really tough to top Cincinnati. I don’t think any of us was expecting anything to top Cinci by that point. We were cool just to have a good show and strong ending to the tour.
Which is exactly what Youngstown gave us.
On a personal note, my good friend Pryslezz rocked the show with us. Some of you older Cincinnati heads may remember him during his days at UC (we both produced his first album and CityBeat actually did a write-up on it back in 2003). He’s gone on to achieve some amazing things in music over the years, and it was an honor for me to have him rock the tour with us.
The night really turned out a good crowd, though the energy at the beginning of our set was really questionable. This was the first night where we couldn’t find the vibe of the crowd, and we spent the first third of our set really trying to gauge where folks were at. But by time the second portion of set began, we began finding the crowd’s rhythm and vice versa.
Youngstown was actually kind of reminiscent of our original Columbus show, in that we really felt like we had to fight for that energy throughout the set. Each song felt like a show-and-prove to really grab the people there. By the end, we got them, and it felt really good. After a strong run of sets where everyone vibed to pretty much everything we rocked, it was kind of a nice reminder that you can never get to comfortable in the crowd's adulation. You always have to be ready to fight for what’s yours. An amazing end to an amazing tour. (Ill Poetic)