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Always Dope Lives Up To Its Name

December 8, 2009

Kane Mayfield | Image by City Paper Digi-Cam

Always Dope, the weekly Tuesday night event that local clothing store PEDX Baltimore began presenting a few weeks ago, has a few things going for it that are terribly hard to come by at local underground hip-hop shows. Those things include a well-lit venue with ample seating—in this case, Red Maple—a diverse crowd with many actual women in attendance, DJs that spin a wide variety of ’90s classics from KRS-One to the Beatnuts, and a relaxed atmosphere in which artists actually appear to like each other and take an interest in each others’ music. And those selling points were all on display this past Tuesday, a release party for the new Brake Fast Records album Cases.

Ubiquitous host Shaka Pitts kicked off the night’s performances by introducing a short but memorably vicious set by Trace Blam. But the main event was a preview for Brake Fast’s next Speakerboxin’ MC tournament, with a three round battle between Troy Brown and Mania Music Group’s Kane Mayfield. The latter is one of Baltimore’s best trash talkers, whether or not he’s rapping, and Mayfield didn’t disappoint. Brown got in some good lines, even if he was pretty obviously regurgitating pre-written lyrics most of the time, full of internal rhymes involving flowery words such as “exquisite” and “ligaments.”

Mayfield, by contrast, kept his tone conversational and kept thinking on his feet, deflecting every insult and getting nastier and more absurd with his own attacks, until there was simply no question who the winner was. The night seemed to peak early at that point, though, and even though there were rappers such as A-Class and Dirt Platoon in the house, nobody else appeared interested in taking the stage, and the crowd started to disperse slowly from there. Still, Always Dope gave more bang for its buck as an event than the usual endless four hour rap shows typically do.

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