Normally, you don’t associate hip-hop music with the state of Delaware. Instead, everyone thinks of tax-free shopping and trips to the beach. Being overshadowed by its larger rap scene counterparts in Philadelphia and New York, Delaware hasn’t really had the opportunity to show the country what it has – until now.
Delaware emcees Fuse-One, Gentle Jones and UnSung attempted to change that conception when they made Philadelphia their first stop on the “Martyrs With Mics” tour.
But being pioneers doesn’t always mean success. The Martyrs’ performances wore a bit thin when energy of the emcees could not even to fill the small and poorly lit room of the Khyber.
The four rappers and a spoken word artist could not get the small Old City crowd moving. Led by headliner Fuse-One, most of the artists’ amateur performances were not enough to keep the audience of 20 to 30 people asking for more. The majority of the audience was either friends or long-time fans who have known most of the artists since they began their careers.
DJ/emcee Gentle Jones opened the night spinning old school hip-hop music such as GZA and Mobb Deep. After providing the scratching, Jones tried his hand at rhyming, but his quick and untimely flows didn’t spark audience interest. Jones provided many of the beats for the artists on the tour, as his original and dark style hasn’t been heard or sampled like many producers today.
UnSung was the only act that stood out. Un’s humorous and entertaining style captivated a larger audience. He rapped over 80s music while clutching his signature journal in his left hand and a cigarette in the other.
UnSung attracted the largest crowd of the night and he had the people moving. Most of the crowd sang with the stocky rapper as he provided a rendition of the hit 80s song “In The Air Tonight,” by Phil Collins.
UnSung provided his hilarious jokes and rhymes to a rather lackluster Monday night crowd.
After intermission, when most of the crowd left, Long Island native, UnAuthordox, attempted to put on a energetic show with his fast-paced hardcore hip-hop style. But UnAuth was trying too hard to have the tired crowd “feel” his rhythm late in the evening. The few (long-time fans) who remained, attempted to show their love for the New York rapper by staying for all his performance.
Headliner Fuse-One stayed calm despite rushing into his performance right after UnAuthordox finished. The slim and token rapper had a laid back style unlike all the other emcees on the Martyrs tour.
Puffing on a cigarette every chance that he had, Fuse informed the crowd he doesn’t want to “disappoint everyone” referring to UnAuthordox’s performance. He performed songs from his latest album, Gypsy Radio, as the midnight crowd seemed very anxious to leave.
Most of the tour members have known Fuse for a few years and signed to his label, Peasant. Like many struggling musicians, the 26-year-old and former Salisbury University student says he was laid off after college. He then realized making hip-hop music was his passion. He eventually became homeless and lived in many places giving inspiration to his CD’s title.
Gypsy Radio took him three years to write. Fuse describes the origin of his name saying, “It was hip-hop sounding, I thought at first it was cool.”
According to Fuse, his influences have been underground and mainstream artists such as Nas, KRS-One, Rakim and tour-mate Gentle Jones.
The tour may not have “kicked off” to a good start, but like many mainstream rappers, touring at small clubs is the way to start a career and build a fan base. Maybe Fuse and the rest of the emcees can learn from their mistakes and use their energy to prepare for bigger and better gigs.
Alan Gung can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org