Last Wednesday. It was my first night at The Dejas / Wreck Shop’s “The Mix” event. And it surely was a mix. It is an event at the Opus in Salem, a popular restaurant and bar located at a premier location on 87 Washington St. Downstairs, or “Underground”, they feature many musical events including this specific Open Mic/Hip Hop fusion that has many in the state spreading the word fast. Only started in September, it is truly picking up steam.
It only recently became that The Dejas event turned into a full-on hip hop collab that they had envisioned. Aaron Katz, the drummer for The Dejas said, “The first time Justice brought Wreck Shop in, The Mix went from a cool community mic/live art scene to something much more energized, diverse and exciting. The goal was always to play live hip hop and have rappers, but the reality of that only came when Wreck Shop made it so.”
The open mic starts at 9. And the hip hop/cypher portion, which turns into a “front-row dance party” as Justice Born, founder of Wreck Shop, describes, starts at 11.
I was highly anticipating going after hearing dope things about it when I was at the Glasshouse event premier (at Opus as well). Michael Cordy aka Organismic was talking about the amazing fusion at the event. And that it could get packed on a Wednesday night. That was enough to peak my curiosity, as I already had respect for the Wreck Shop movement and Justice Born. I had not heard The Dejas prior to it, but was excited to – as I knew they have a large following. Oh P.S, yeah pretty incredible that it’s also a FREE event (every single Wednesday).
I felt like I was committing a crime, by walking into Opus, then crawling downstairs without paying any cover. I was the Grinch: stealing all this good time for free. But you quickly feel bad and make up for that by handing the bar over some well-deserved money.
Want an example of the dope fusion at the event?
Probably doesn’t get more clear than a spooky OPERA singer jumping in to collab with a hip hop freestyle, managing to somehow stay sorta in rhythm with the rapper, too. How crazy is that. Props to that girl. This is something you only see in Salem.
Wreck Shop sweatshirts were abound, part of the Hoodies for the Homeless program started by the crew. If you go, you will be seeing lots of these. For every one purchased, one is donated to a homeless person in the area.
Time-Zone headlined the night. Among his acts was a song about Trayvon. He had a really heavy voice and commanded the attention of the crowd.
Relentless (Angelo Silva), a close Wreck Shop ally, did a great job hyping up the crowd: you’ll want to check this short Instagram video to get a good feeling. Everything sounds better with The Dejas playing in the background, too. Even this simple hyping.
The Dejas’ instrumentation throughout the night was perfect and I compare them to The Roots for Jimmy Fallon. That is what they are to the Hip Hop portion of the night for “The Mix”/Wreck Shop. You can’t have an exciting Fallon night separating the show from The Roots. It’s the same with Dejas and Wreck Shop. They were able to find the perfect balance to match amazing talent and combine community love to create this event. Throughout the night I heard several compliments on how well The Dejas added to the atmosphere of the hip hop, really bringing it to LIFE.
One of my favorite acts, Organismic (Michael Cordy) was just on point the entire night. His freestyling at points sounded like songs: thats how good they were. His lyricism out of control and voice commanding to the point you know everyone in the audience was paying attention. It was clear that as he said, from his influence of KRS-One as “the best rapper of all time” that he is from an era of listening that isn’t about the BS swag rap. It’s very raw authentic rap, which is what Wreck Shop is about. And what many people who from past generations have come out to re-live, as they have been unable to get this feeling since the 90s. You will see such a diverse crowd from the age limit of 21 to literally over 60.
My cousin Vishal was like, “Organismic’s voice reminds me of someone famous, I don’t know who”. I said “Maybe someone from Wu… Method Man?”. He said yeah that was it, and I totally saw it. And that is such a compliment to have your voice be compared to Method. If you can get someone to say you sound like Mef (one of the best ever IMO), that’s an accomplishment. As my cousin pointed out though, when I said “his voice is strong/erratic like Meth” he said “Erratic, yes, but also in control”. It totally dawned on me. Mef was so awesome because despite APPEARING to sound so crazy/erratic he still kept control. That’s what made him so dope. And it’s the same for Mike. Pay attention to this man. there’s no doubt ProU will be supporting his album in April, and I will certainly be buying it.
Kevin Bates aka D Blaze was another MC really able to command the mic and get the crowd going. Video here. People really did their thing and most of all everyone was enjoying the night.[I had written more about the acts but I want you to be able to finish reading this article fast enough that you will still be able to go out to the event tonight. All the rappers, Andrew Dimarzo, Bunny-Girl, etc: great job] . Bunny-Girl dancing was definitely a highlight of the night.
Opus is popping. And this event I can just tell will continue growing by the reaction of my cousin, who I took for the very first time. How enthusiastically he said “Damn this place is perfect”. The same reaction I got from others who have been to many events, but were super-happy with this one: like Joey B and Ediquette of Glasshouse. Everyone who I have taken or talked about with it has given it raving reviews.
Thank you to Justice Born for bringing Hip Hop into the area/Opus (originally with his Salem Bridgin Gaps festival), it is creating a wave of acceptance for the genre here and is just the beginning. Thank you The Dejas and the community for making it possible: without each piece we wouldn’t have this awesome event.
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