Hip Hop artist Ill Poetic, who developed his MC and production talents in the Cincinnati scene (and writes the montly Hip Hop (Un)Scene column for CityBeat) before becoming a bit of a journeyman to pursue his career, recently completed a stint performing on the Ohio Takeover Tour, which showcased some Ohio's top talent, including headliner J. Rawls, in venues across the state. Ill Po kept a journal of his tour adventures for us; read Part 1 here and Part 2 below. —-
Columbus & Kent, April 16
(Writer’s note: As of this point, I will begin instituting tour slang and inside jokes into this entry. Only a few people will get the references. Sorry readers — I'll do my best to explain.)
We basically had to be up early the next day to prep for a weekend full of shows (this weekend has five shows in three days). We met up at Magnolia Thunderpussy (a record store next to Skullys) to rock a set in support of Record Store Day. We had a pretty nice crowd. Wives and kids came out, friends came out, barbecue, beer. Everything about the afternoon felt like a nice sunny spring day, except for the lack of sun and spring.
After we rocked, we merched out (aka sold merchandise) and hit the road up to Kent. Kent was our first opportunity to really perform our fully-realized, fleshed-out set. This was the first show where I found myself getting the chance to just watch L.e and Illogic rock, being a fan who somehow snuck on stage. Truthfully, performing is fun as hell, and these dudes raise the #bar so high that it forces me to go in (pause) on my songs, but it’s honestly just as fun if not more fun, to just watch them perform some of my favorite songs in front of me.
It was about at this point that I realized this is turning into one of my favorite tours, period. Not the biggest (at the moment), but the most endearing. I feel like everyone on this tour is a genuine fan of each other. We all know each other’s lyrics, not just because we hear them every night, but because we already knew them before the tour even started. This tour is a prime example of how artists in their own lanes of music can find common bond in the craft and culture we love.
We took no time in diving into nerdy-ass Hip Hop conversations, dissecting flow patterns styles, and shit that only rappers and producers talk about, just happy to find more people that care about that shit, too.
Pittsburgh & Cleveland, April 17
We woke up super-early Sunday in Kent to head out to Pittsburgh for an in-store at a really fresh spot called 720 Records. My dude DJ Big Phill brought us out. I hadn’t seen Phill for years. Last time I was there, I crashed at his spot and his wife fixed us all waffles the morning after the show. His son Little Phill was toddler-size. Years later, we find ourselves back in Pittsburgh, where Phill’s wife would again hook us up on food, this time at Red Robin. Holy shit, it was amazing. Little Phill grew a couple feet since I last saw him which made me realize how long it had been since I’d visited Pittsburgh.
On a quick side note, I have to say this. I’m pretty sure the reason Cinci and Pittsburgh keep their rivalry going so strong has to be because the cities are almost exactly the same. EXACTLY. Hills, architecture of houses, overall tone of the city. Rawls (UC alum) could see it too. Same thing. Sorry.
The in-store was fantastic. Great response again. Merched out and prepped for a two-hour drive to Cleveland. At this point, I really started feeling good about the set we’d all built. Eventually we made it out to Cleveland. Really strong showing for Illogic in Cleveland. On a personal note, I got to see some friends/family out there and catch up, which is always great. Another nice benefit of such a localized tour is that we get to have our friends come out from city to city, (people) we don’t get to hang with often since we all live in Columbus. Cleveland was definitely a highlight in a tour full of highlights.
Drove back that night and enjoyed a much needed off-day on Monday, which gave us time to prep for Tuesday in Dayton.