Performing artists representing Vegas culture understood the assignment
On Saturday, January 8, Mike Xavier’s Hip-Hop and Poetry Night blended rap and spoken word together to serve audiences something bold and fresh. Local and west coast talents delivered raw, heartfelt works of art, which represented the most popular performers right now in Vegas culture.
The stage, drenched in violet and teal lights, set a cool tone for the evening. Attendees mingled at the bar to grab drinks while others gathered around small tables on the standing floor.
Show host Michael Robertson and DJ Kelly J led the event that night with ease. She bumped Cardi B and Drake beats as guests trickled in to settle into their spots. Robertson playfully teased concertgoers commenting on audience members’ outfits to warm up the crowd.
Hip-Hop and Poetry opened with Ami Divine, a spoken word artist, with a soft, gentle voice. She wore a lovely red headwrap and her calming presence quieted chattering guests. One of her poems reminded showgoers that the “freckles on [their] skin reveal constellations of stories yet to be told.” Another piece described a passionate relationship between lovers with clever lines like “You didn’t bring me flowers, you planted them.”
Next up was another poet that drove all the way out to Vegas from Los Angeles, Tiff Hubbard. Her conversational tone and smooth flow made her performance appear effortless. Hubbard charmed the crowd like a pro. Her thoughtful words encouraged optimism, but she also sprinkled in moments of light humor. She spoke poetic prose sparking hope like “On your darkest days, you become your own sun.”
All the spoken word artists held their own that night including Monarch the Poet, a gifted wordsmith who grew up in Las Vegas. Without missing a beat, he took to the mic like he was born with one in his hand. The audience moved in closer to the set to listen.
Monarch the Poet collaborated with another seasoned Vegas-based artist, Jam the Poet. Their passion lit up the stage as they powerfully delivered social activism through their piece titled, “Black.”
These two well versed poets are a tough act to follow; however, the thriving artist behind the production, Mike Xavier, appeared humble by their unparalleled skills before taking the Brooklyn stage.
He genuinely thanked everyone for showing up, “Thank you guys for coming out. I really appreciate it. The fact that all of you guys are here today to support the talent that is on this stage is super exciting and is just a beautiful thing to see come together.”
He followed this announcement of gratitude with a few performances of his own original works to connect with the crowd. Xavier shared deep prose reflecting on his life experiences like “They like to ask me what it’s like when you fulfill your dreams. I say it makes me feel alive and reach for bigger things” and “I lost a lot of things, but knew that I would get it back.”
Another piece he performed asked the audience to “Imagine [they] didn’t always feel against the odds, that single parents didn’t always need a second job. Imagine you could change the past. Imagine Pac and Big still alive and Aaliyah never crashed.”
His last piece left hip-hop and poetry fans with something to think about. “The wrong people have always taught me the right lessons…A negative mind will have me blocking all my blessings.”
Bay Area Rapper Ozer picked up right where Xavier left off. He got the party in motion as he worked the stage. The audience participated when he said Polo, they chanted Fendi in one of his original songs. At one point in his set, the crowd raised their phone flashlights while swaying them back and forth in unison. A sea of lights illuminated the intimate concert venue.
North Las Vegas artist, Miles Low, along with the FCCMG Band, gave good vibes only. The crowd was feeling their electric energy and four-piece live band (electric guitar, electric bass, drums and keys). Between Low’s smooth bars and bassist Isaiah’s harmonious composition, the collaboration was fire. His charisma and stage presence proved he is on his way to making a name for himself here in Vegas and beyond. The performance got the guests grooving to his bars and the musicians sleek sounds. Low’s lyrics highlighted Vegas with local references and catchy hooks such as “My city like woah.”
After Low and the FCCMG Band’s lively set, the event switched gears into a dance club during the intermission. DJ Kelly J spun some funky fresh remixes of several hip-hop classics including Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.”
To bring the concert goers attention back to the show before it became a full on nightclub, Xavier announced a rap cypher to swing them into the second act. A rap cypher is when a group of rappers continuously pass the microphone freestyling fluid bars to a track.
Xavier also chose a confident audience member to get on stage to freestyle. The crowd shouted out three random words that he had to include in his rap: gold, gasoline and poetic. Right on cue, the newcomer rapped on the spot utilizing all three words without breaking a sweat. Spontaneous moments like these are part of what makes it such a dynamic experience unlike any other open mic in town.
Plus one of the rappers in the cypher, JFence, had auditioned for the show, but had not been formally selected due to his last minute submission. Because he came out to show love to the artists despite not being chosen for the lineup, Xavier gave him a chance to shine on stage during the cypher.
In a similar fashion to the XXL Freshman Class freestyle session, the hip-hop round-up consisted of Kenyadda, Jaydee Anthony, Vic Smith, Jerrytheblack, BQQMBIGGI3, JFence and Ricky Norf. None of the rappers got cold on the mic, which was super impressive.
After the cypher wrapped up, the next performer taking the mic was none other than Tanna Marie. She recited a spoken word poem with lines overlapping her lyrics in her R & B single, “Gumbo.” Nobody gets the crowd going like Tanna. Her engaging performance hyped up all the hip-hop fans. It’s no surprise why she’s gained a loyal fan base here in Vegas.
After Tanna worked her magic, the show switched gears back into poetry mode. RelldaTruth’s spoken word expressed sensual and intimate emotions. He licked his lips and crouched down closely to the ladies gathered at the front of the stage. The ladies swooned over his R-Rated lines as he glided across the stage “free as a butterfly.” His confessional style won over the crowd, especially the starry-eyed women standing close to him.
RelldaTruth’s next piece showcased the range in his body of work, which expressed what it is like “being Black in America.” Between snaps and whistles, audience members’ reactions revealed that they resonated with his art.
The snaps persisted as Jenn from Japan grabbed the mic. Owning her femininity and sensual nature, she freely spoke in sexual metaphors and vivid descriptors painting a steamy sex scene like a movie. But she slipped in witty remarks to keep it unpredictable such as “You may fall victim to the feelings I pull out of you.”
“We have greatness inside us all,” recited 360 The Poet in his piece. “Focus more on your rise than how many steps it took.” All the performers that night expressed gratitude towards Xavier and the opportunity to perform on stage on the Strip including 360 The Poet. “We are on the Strip performing y’all,” he said.
The closing act was Theo. This artist performed both spoken word and rap combining the genres into his own sound. He told the audience during his set, “I like the energy.” His robust moves and fiery delivery kept the crowd invested. Theo proved to be “fresher than a peppermint” that night on stage.
Overall, this spectacle is everything a hip-hop and poetry aficionado would love. The mixture of spoken word artists, rappers and exceptional performers dismantling the barriers in between laid down a winning hand. The showcase goes above and beyond a typical open mic night with its high quality production, experienced entertainers and fervent spirit. Keep an eye on these Vegas visionaries because they are going places and on the brink of becoming the next big thing.
The next Hip-Hop and Poetry Night will be on Saturday, January 15 in San Diego, California at Soda Bar. Tickets are available for purchase at Hiphopandpoetry.com. The event sells out fast, so don’t wait until the last minute to secure your spot.