January 28, 2013

Awthentik and The FIF: Who Said You Can’t Pull Off Hip-Hop Live?

My favorite musical partner-in-crime and I decided spontaneously on a recent Thursday night to visit The 8x10 in Baltimore, MD to drop in on the local music scene.  Not knowing at all what to expect – perhaps the best way to discover new music – we watched rapper/producer/engineer Awthentik front a band called The FIF...and tear the little playhouse down!

My long-standing complaint about 99 percent of hip-hop artists – no matter what level of fame and notoriety they’ve achieved – is that they can’t pull it off live.  To hide their inability to perform live, most resort to bringing out an entourage of 35 of their closest buddies onstage and yelling shout-outs or the incessant and oh-so-original, “Wave yo’ hands in the air…”  At best (or is that worst?), they rap to pre-recorded backing tracks.  I’m looking at you, Kanye!

Awthentik and The FIF belong to that rare one percent.

As a rapper, Awthentik has all the flair, flow, and swagger of the biggest of ‘em – Jay-Z, Naz, Common, Q-Tip, etc.  The five-piece FIF, backing up the rhymes, are super-tight and super-funky and…here’s what sets them apart from most others playing in a small club….they sound HUGE without over-playing or sledgehammering you with sheer volume.  The FIF achieve the perfect laid-back-but-intense funk backdrop for Awthentik’s raps with just the right amount of modern-day keyboards/sampling over vintage Soul Train-worthy guitar, bass, and drums.

Awthentik’s website claims that his music “brings a fresh approach with a recognizable flavor from the ‘Golden Era’ of hip-hop.”  I have to disagree just a little bit because….when Awthentik and The FIF are rockin’ the party, this is the Golden era of hip-hop.

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