June 16, 2012 The Observatory in Santa Ana & Out Da House Productions unexpectedly brought one of the livest and most successful hip hop events to ever hit Orange County, Back To Basics. The venue filled with loyal hip hop fans, fascinated by raw lines, dope beats, and culture. The line-up consisting of Souls of Mischief, Planet Asia, Strong Arm Steady, Fashawn, Zion I, Evidence, People Under The Stairs, and The Visionaries among others. The outcome? Well, here we are three years later, wrapping up a successful weekend with the third annual Back To Basics Hip Hop festival, and it’s safe to say that like fine wine it only gets better as the years pass.
Out Da House Productions in conjunction with the Observatory OC once again lined up a emcee-studded roster for our annual Back To Basics. This year, bringing you a two-day sold out event with some of your favorite rhyme-spitters and knowledge droppers: Pharoahe Monch, Souls Of Mischief, Oh No & Roc C, Blackalicious, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, Raekwon, Sick Jacken, Murs, and Immortal Technique to name a few. Not only were we in celebration of our Back To Basics third year run, but also celebrating the 7 year Out Da House anniversary- so you know we put out for hip hop fans in a major way this time around!
Brother Ali, Dag Savage, Planet Asia, Blackalicious, Talib Kweli, People Under The Stairs, Tha Liks, and MURS, were the big names on our Observatory main room stage on day 1 (6/21). Doors opened at 4pm and the show began promptly by 5.
First up, to get the crowd ready and pumped was Surkle of Sound dropping ill liners like “How you gangsta? When you ain’t even bangin’ in my deck”.
Local young talent Sage One took second on stage. Now, don’t knock the supporting act slot, because this young 21 year old has quite a fan base, enough wisdom and rhyme scheme on deck than your average hip hop opening act. Sage stepped on stage as though class had just been dismissed, backpack and all, but it was just getting started as he took to the mic and began to spit 16s- generating a large amount of acclamation from the crowd. It’s really no surprise why Sage boasts the #2 spot on OC Weekly’s recent Top Ten Rappers in OC.
Drewid Of SI rocked third also exciting the crowd with lots of energy and a dope set where he incorporated the b-boy element of the culture.
Main act Dag Savage took over the stage at about 6:30pm for the real fun, but something seemed off key on the deejay platform- Exile was missing. While Exile was away on tour in Europe, Johaz rocked the Back To Basics stage and the crowd with positive, and spiritual style. “Make You Feel That Way” had the entire crowd elevated on words and sound.
A quick turnaround came when Tha Liks completely turned the building into a party. E-swift, J-Ro, & Tash had the crowd jumping with singles from albums 21 And Over, Coast II Coast, Likwidation, X.O. Expereince, and Firewater. The “hip hop drunkies” did what they do best- and that’s turn the party out! They ended their set with “The Flute Song (LaLaLa)” leaving the crowd in a frenzy.
Talib Kweli was another crowd favorite as the East Coast native brought his conscious lyricism to the mic. He performed tracks off his extensive solo catalog, as well as collaborative projects with Mos Def (Black Star) and Hi-Tek (Reflection Eternal). My personal favorite, as I’m sure is one of yours as well, and most memorable moment every time Talib rocks a stage, is the performance of “Get By”. There’s just something about that track that evokes change, optimism, and a second look at your life.
Another one of our Back to Basics veteran acts, People Under The Stairs, brought another amazing performance to Back To Basics for the third time in a row. Y’all already know how it goes- Double K & Thes One put on quite a show! The two-man act pours out all their energy on that stage filling each and every single one in that room. The highlight of their set, as always, is when the lights dim low and those strings begin to sound off “Ta-Ra-Ta-Ta-Ta”. Yeah, that’s that “San Francisco Knights”- the dim venue illuminates with lighters creating the most serene atmosphere.
Brother Ali had the entire main room packed throughout his set. It was evident many hip hop enthusiasts were in attendance to see the Rhymesayer. Executing rhymes about life, love, struggle, government theory, and humanism. It was such a honor to have Brother Ali on our stage this year not only as the phenomenal lyricist that he is but as the self-aware man as he dropped jewels of wisdom all through out the performance.
And finally, our headliner on this years Back To Basics main stage was the underground hip hop icon of the past decade. You can’t speak on underground hip hop without mentioning this man at least once, or twice within the discussion. From the Living Legends to Felt, to Guerilla Unions Independent Paid Dues festival, and every underground independent hip hop artist to ever grace that and the Rock the Bells festival stages is in some way in alignment with this man right here- MURS.
Never being afraid to experiment, Murs began his set by first performing with his new group MURSDAY! consisting of Strange Music band MAYDAY! and himself. Now, let me tell y’all, I’m not too fond of the rock scene, with a few exceptions here and there, but MURSDAY! is most definitely something I dug the sound of. MAYDAY brings two emcees, Bernz and Wreckonize, adding Murs to the mix they create an even more energized and fine fusion of alternative rock with a urban-rap twist.
Following the MURSDAY! performance Murs went on to do a solo set which many of us were anticipating the entire night. Murs has thrived in this underground scene for his storytelling and life-and-love experience rhymes. His music ranges from experimental fun and goofy to heavily sample driven and heartfelt.
He performed “Bad Man”, “Silly Girl”, “Yesterday & Today”, “H-U-S-T-L-E”, “I Used To Love Her (Again)”- we went crazy off those 9th Wonder productions. “The Breakup Song” and “Remember to Forget” hit close to heart for many. Murs didn’t overlook the Felt (Murs & Slug) favorite “Dirty Girl” which had all the “linda cochinas” singing along. But the most memorable moment of his set was when he and his DJ harmonized Warren G’s “Regulators” and at the end Murs gave a big shout out with a “R.I.P.” to the west coast crooner, hit-maker, and legend- Nate Dogg. Everyone gave an outcry of acclaim and respect.
Meanwhile, all throughout the night the Constellation room sported a line-up of artists with a more eclectic, raw, and experimental sound. KC Coats, MC A&A, the Ghetto Zoo, and Parallel crew all graced the Out Da House stage in the Constellation room alongside main acts Roc C & Oh No, and Kool Keith.
It’s nearly impossible to catch an entire set at an event like this involving two rooms and times overlapping each other just about the entire night. Nonetheless, I caught a glimpse here and there of everyone rocking the stage for the viewers and listeners in attendance. And as they say, one picture is worth a thousand words:
Thank you to all the artist who made Day 1 of Back to Basics 3 a memorable one for the fans, and to all the fans who came out and helped us make history once again in the name of Hip Hop.
All photographs shot by @Villa_Del_Lobo for Out Da House Productions