The other night my boyfriend and I went to the Toki Wright and Big Cat’s concert at The Triple Rock. It was supposed to be the next step in my goal to have more hip-hop music in my life. First step: Get more hip-hop music. Second step: Go to hip-hop shows. And I suppose it was, though I felt like the experience boosted my “Be more involved in community building” goal more.
The night started out in a way I expected. We arrived at The Triple Rock early, to catch the opening acts, and were treated to Dj Digies amazing spins. (I learned a new phrase. When the Dj is at his/her podium they are “on the ones and twos”.) Several people were milling about so Rob and I grabbed some cash at the ATM, bought a soda and joined them. I was checking out the merch table when I noticed the Soul Tools shirt.
“What’s Soul Tools?” I asked the intern behind the table. He told me that Soul Tools is an entertainment company started by Toki Wright. “This guy could probably explain it better,” he continued.
I was almost afraid to look. (I don’t know why it surprises me when I run into an artist at their show, I mean this kind of thing happens all the time in MSP.) I turned and there was Toki, ready and stoked to tell me about his company. He said the goal of Soul Tools is to produce entertainment from the soul, lead by the heart. He saw a need for artists of like mind to have a multi-media platform to express themselves with.
The concert seemed to be born from that agenda. The opening acts were Shiro Dame and K. Raydio, both acts lead by soulful singers with flows to match. K. Raydio was smooth as ever. Shiro Dame blew. My. Mind. A new (like brand, spanking new) group with each member overflowing with passion for music. I found myself saying “Hot Damn!” over and over again. Shiro Dame is fierce! My favorite moments were any time Sarah White was on the mic and Blayr Alexander’s AMAZING drum solo (seriously, Blayr… OMG!) Don’t take my word for it, though. Check out their single (and then go see them live!)
Each group’s lyrics were prominently about having love and respect for self and community. None more so than Toki’s set. His new album with Big Cats, Pangaea, is inspired by the idea that we are all one. Toki would often encourage the audience to stand up and support each other between songs. Before igniting the room with “Let it Go,” and a track about ‘cleaning house,’ Toki said “You’re gonna have to struggle against the man; why struggle against yourself, too?” Near the end of his set, Toki dropped this bomb on the audience:
“We live in a community that we own. Don’t let anybody tell you that you don’t have control of yourself.”
After the show I found myself swept up in the movement. That we are part of a community where we are all one; where the strength of many can bring us all to a higher plain. Staring out the car window I realized that achieving my dreams is going to be a struggle. This goal, though, is like a moon diffused by clouds. I need only know it is there in order to reach for it.