Halloween night was cold and chilly, but it was hot inside the Owl Cove where the Hip-hop society heated things up with “Baptism by Fire.”
The monthly event has become a way to vent for hip-hop devotees with something on their minds. Purple plastic wristbands were given out at the front door to the over 200 people that came through. Inside, the amount of people exceeded the available seating, so many willingly stood on the floor and on top of chairs to view the performers.
“Philly is a bubbling pot [for hip-hop], it has real potential and it’s helping it [the culture] nationwide,” said vice-president of the Hip-hop society Kinte McDaniels. “We are saying what a lot of people are already thinking. That’s what makes them come, makes them vibe with that person.”
Another organizer of the event, Jerrold Randall, who goes by the MC name “Last Word,” first got behind the mike at a BBF event in the spring of 1996.
“It was fun, and a way to express my thoughts publicly,” said Randall. He has been involved with the Hip-hop society ever since and now is the president.
A believer in practicing what you preach, McDaniel got up on stage and said “Don’t be stingy with the love.” Most of the attendees were regulars, and Randall and McDaniels gave out hugs and handshakes freely to every person that walked in.
Many emcees see freestyling as a spiritual cleansing and “spitting fire,” or rhyming, is the way they do it. That’s where the name Baptism by Fire came from according to Randall.
DJ Seag, (pronounced “Siege”) set the atmosphere by spinning hip-hop tracks throughout the night.
Going with the Halloween theme, the group Parts of Speech came out wearing masks. During their set, the crowd was holding on to their every word, concentrating “like orange juice” as it is said in their lyrics.
A highlight of the evening was when Hezekiah, probably the most well known artist of the night, took the stage. Earlier this year, Hezekiah came out with the single “Is it Just Music” and has collaborated with artists such as Malik B. from the Roots. Some people seemed nervous on stage, but Hezekiah seemed more comfortable on stage than when not. Moving his head back and forth, right and left, rhythmically like a sprinkler, Hezekiah executed some of his previous material. Later, he surprised the audience with his version of an old Beatles tune, singing “you make a b-boy dance, you make a b-girl dance.”
The hyper crowd quickly turned pin-drop silent when McDaniel led a 10 second moment of silence for Raven Blue, a former regular performer at BBF who recently passed away.