Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Pressure on people, people on streets
A couple of weeks ago was the 11th edition of Under Pressure, a weekend-long celebration of graffiti, primarily, but all facets of hip-hop culture, culminating in a day-long block party behind Foufounes Electriques. There was the usual b-boy/b-girl battle (and I second Scott's request for better sightlines somehow) and the skateboard competition (which I missed out on - it ran simultaneously against the breaking, on the other side of the parking lot), two DJ tents, and a hell of a lot of paint. The highlight for me (and many others, I'm sure) came post-battle, when DJ Kool Herc got behind the turntables, and actually extended the honor of WeFunk's own Professor Groove to split the decks in a sure-shot selection battle. Kool Herc, for a large part of his set, played the original songs fabled hip-hop breaks and samples come from; another highlight was hearing him spin a Mary J. Blige album track.
Like so many other events in Montreal, Under Pressure has this communal vibe and energy that amplifies the enjoyment of the music. It was only disrupted once, with one b-boy talking a little too much trash, I think - I couldn't see what was going on, I just heard the MC calling him out and telling him to chill. I can only imagine that Under Pressure is close to the old-school block parties (and with Kool Herc's presence, I would think that comparison is more than apt). It's fulfilling to see the history of this culture appreciated and continued, and to hear how it grows out of all the African-American music that came before it. There were some little kids getting down to James Brown, and in some small way that gave me hope for the future.