Hip-hop by definition 

"Those shorts are too tight for hip-hop."

Entering "Tha Show II," May 30's lengthy hip-hop showcase/MC battle at the Masquerade, I felt my buttocks tighten as their cotton-twill comrade came under critique. I turned to locate my fashion reviewer -- a baggy-shorted, sports-jerseyed chap hanging out on the North Avenue sidewalk. He held his screw-faced scowl for a beat before turning and slowly walking away. "Those shorts are too tight for hip-hop" -- minimal and rhythmic, the words were like some urban haiku that I was now required to decipher. Somewhere, far off in the distance, a car honked its horn once.

As irrelevant as they might seem, my shorts became an apt metaphor as the show progressed. If there was one exciting thing about the acts that took the stage last Friday night, it was the way in which they resisted any traditional, one-dimensional hip-hop dogma. A majority were led by or included women. The $1,000 MC battle was decided between two white MCs (which is barely worth mentioning anymore), and the headlining act included a band that, at times, felt more like Black Sabbath than Black Eyed Peas. At this point, it would seem hip-hop can wear whatever kind of shorts it wants.

Some highlights of the night included the debut performance of Sol Uprising, a project consisting of Scienz of Life vocalist Lil Sci and frequent SOL guest vocalist Stacy Epps, followed by D.R.E.S. tha Beatnik and his assembled band. The stylistic tension between D.R.E.S.'s beat-box vocals and the band's heavy lixx was scrumptiously original. The hyped MC battle was more like a war of attrition. The percussive, combative style of Cypher Linguistics finally grabbed the purse just shy of 4 a.m.

Roni Sarig's Sharp Notes column is on hiatus and will return in late August.

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