In a pivotal move for the city’s music scene, hit producer Sonny Digital turned a collaboration with popular Charleston artist Matt Monday into a highly anticipated concert at the Music Farm on March 26. Local music label Southern Wealth in Music (S.W.I.M.) produced the show, which featured several top hip hop acts from around the state, such as Salis, DJ Tantrum, Black Dave, and the rap trio OXYxMORON.
Digital, the Atlanta-based musician, is widely known for the beats behind ‘Racks’ (YC feat. Future), ‘Birthday Song’ (2 Chainz feat. Kanye West), and ‘Tuesday’ (iLoveMakonnen feat. Drake). Each of those referenced singles attained either Platinum or Gold RIAA Certification. The producer worked in the studio with Monday earlier this year in the Georgia capital, which lead Digital to returning the favor with this much-hyped occasion for his fans in Holy City.
Tantrum of 99.3 The Box and audio/visual artist Black Dave DJ’d the event expertly with high-energy set lists and performances. DJ Tantrum kicked off the festivities for the ethnically diverse crowd filled with 80’s and 90’s babies. They consistently maintained and elevated the atmosphere inside the Music Farm with ease. DJ Tantrum reintroduced reliable club bangers from Dipset, Drake, and Kanye West while Dave relied on bubbling artists such as Travis Scott, ASAP Ferg, and Schoolboy Q. Safe to say, there was an abundance of Dabbing (the dance) and whipping of the wrist on this Saturday night downtown. Tantrum was a vivid stage presence, basking in the ambience of good vibes which flowed kinetically. Dave, fitted with a mask reminiscent of Jason Voorhees of ‘Friday the 13th’ fame, brought the heat with along with his lively hype man.
Salis, fresh off the momentum of the March 16 release of his new album ‘Moonshine & Hennessy’, was the first rapper to hit the stage at 32 Ann Street. He sported one of Black Dave’s new stylish ‘CHARLESTON’ tees that many patrons adorned around the Music Farm. The ‘Caddy Musik’ creator set the tone for the show confidently, with each performance building to the next. He dedicated a portion of his time in the spotlight to the late Houston rap legend Pimp C, a clear influence in Salis’s sound. His album can be purchased at cadillacsalis.bandcamp.com.
OXYxMORON, a triumvirate that formed in 2007 at Francis Marion University, followed with flair. Consisting of Tony London, Omar Bunyan, and Ment Nelson, the three traded bars and punchlines from tracks like ‘Flo Town’, the 8Ball & MJG-sampled ‘I Am Tony London’, and ‘Doo Wop’. OXYxMORON’s chemistry was easy to appreciate and even reminds one of a Organized Noize-Outkast type of sound to their songs.
Talking with Nelson before the show, he reiterated how important the concert was for the city. There aren’t many places downtown for hip hop artists to consistently get their music played, so opportunities like this could wind up being a launching point to a changing landscape. An artist to boot, Nelson’s work can be found on mentnelson.bigcartel.com. He was named after the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney, whose mothers were friends. More of the group’s music can be heard on oxyxmoron.bandcamp.com.
Matt Monday premiered his fresh Sonny Digital-produced single, ‘You Know Who’, at this special event. Monday gave the crowd spirited renditions from his catalog such as ‘Try Me’, ‘Holy Ziggins’ (featuring OXYxMORON’s Omar Bunyan), and the party-starter ‘Mixx’. Monday even stage-dove at one point, riding the wave of appreciation he earned with the passion of his delivery. Monday’s latest album, ‘Filthy’ is available digitally on the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.
Monday’s blistering vocals kept the crowd in its frenzied state, which only amplified when Sonny hit the stage for the finale. Digital’s ‘50 On My Wrist’, a single released this month, was one of the more anticipated tracks of the evening. He spent equal time rocking the crowd with his mic and working the mixing boards. Digital fed on the unwavering support from the audience. Hits from his work with Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa, and 50 Cent served as the triumphant culmination of a successful trip to the Lowcountry for the in-demand producer.
With a night filled with banging beats, an engaged audience, and the camaraderie among local artists, the bright future of South Carolina hip hop was on full display on March 26. The crowd-pleasing show begs the question: what’s next? Hopefully, it will be nationwide recognition for these young Black men. Talent can only be denied for so long. The time has come for rappers from around the state to be taken to the next level, as well as downtown Charleston’s non-white nightlife. Blacks need more venues to enjoy themselves on the peninsula. The success of this show will go a long way in all of their journeys to stardom and future attitudes towards hip hop’s place in downtown Charleston.