Talking with Lyric Marid over the past year, there are two things that are clear to me; He loves his friends and family and he will rep Minnesota until the end. This aura was present on the night of The Sota Seoul experience, named after MinneSota and Seoul, South Korea, brought together some of the Twin Cities biggest names in hip hop. Pair that with a buffet of Soul food by Butta Johnson, a beer pong table, live painting by Suki the Saint, and a live Podcast by the Wiseman Show and this evening became more than your average concert. Sota Seoul became an experience.
The first featured artist to take the stage was Major G, an electrifying act that can send a shockwave through any crowd. Being the first time I had seen him live, I was having a hard time taking pictures between feeling the vibe of the crowd.
Next featured artist to take the stage was the powerful lyricist Knucky Brown. Knucky Brown brings a different element to the stage than Major G. He lets his words incite the energy instead of making a big stage presence. This, in my opinion, is one of the hardest tasks to pull off but Knucky does it with ease, pulling you closer to hear every word he spits. The third featured artist I had only recently become aware of when Lyric Marid's latest album Sota Seoul dropped. Nathan Ejuwa is another hard hitting lyricist with a voice that can ignite your fire or cool you off. Although it was the first time hearing his solo music, I can tell you it won't be the last.
The next featured artist needs no introduction on this site as I am always singing his praises. Why Khaliq brought the usual; a smooth voice, a jazzy beat and Cam on Clouds behind him. Bringing out his own new tracks off his upcoming The Mustard Seed project for the experience, he had the crowd itching for more.
Bdotcroc would be the last featured artist before Lyric Marid would take the stage. Being the only featured female on the bill can sometimes be difficult, especially in the testeroned fueled hip hop scene of today. However, Bdotcroc went go toe to toe with any artist on the bill and the cities in general. Bringing an aggressive but smooth style she was the perfect set up for Lyric.
The headliner for the night is one of the most well-respected artists in the Twin Cities for many reasons, but none better than his outright respect for the Twin Cities scene and this was shown in full tonight with how many special guests made an appearance. It's easy to make your night all about you, but Lyric Marid brought out Ace and Trai-P, Rachel Lee, Juicelord, and Radio Ahlee. Juicelord coming off sets at SXSW had a short lived but powerful spot.
The time had come, the smoke was pouring, the fans were full on food, but had just enough room left for one last performance. Having finally gotten around to listen to Sota Seoul, it was a pleasure to listen to it live.
Before I get into the performance, I have to talk about this album because it was another hard hitter from the Twin Cities' finest. The first song “Respect” mimics my sentinment about what makes Lyric stand out with the chorus of “Put some respect on the name, then put some respect on the squad (or skwaaad as Lyric would say).” Heavy beat after heavy beat make this album a car shaker but unlike many of today's beat rapper, Lyric can bring lyric-ism to the beats. This isn't the extent of Lyric's range, as he can switch effortlessly between club bangers and powerful ballads to chill vibing songs. “Jaycen,” one of my personal favorite songs of the album, tells the story of Lyric's life and how much his son Jaycen influenced his music and work ethic. One aspect of this album that sets it apart from a lot of albums today, and something I have found in my idol Tech N9ne's ability to make music, is Lyric's ability to find the right features. Instead of looking for the biggest names, he looks for the right names. This ability is personified in “Sunshine” featuring Sieed Brown, which is easily my favorite song on the album. Sieed's voice pairs with the beat while Lyric's flow can fit anything with a powerful bass. The combo of the two plays perfectly off each other. While a powerful bass is right over the plate for Lyric, what impresses me is his ability to make his flow fit diverse beats. Another song where all these elements are displayed is “Popuhaddy” ft Why Khaliq and Rich Garvey. This is not a typical Lyric Marid beat, –in fact–it feels like it was made for Why Khaliq but Lyric bodies this track like every track on this album.
Now, that I'm done gushing over his latest album, I'm ready to gush over the live performance of it. If his rapping skills didn't feel effortless enough, he makes all us big men jealous over how effortlessly he jumps around on stage. Again this is a time for Lyric to shine, but he had a stage full of friends and fellow artists because as he says “I'm reppin M I double N E S O T A.” Standing in the back to take a couple photos proved a little harder than expected as the stage had a shroud of smoke hovering around it but the vibe around him was even heavier.
The evening was one I won't soon forgot. From the food to the acts, to the purest smiles, the Sota Seoul Experience was unlike any show I have been to. I have always maintained a high level of respect for Lyric Marid, but it is clear now that the Twin Cities feels the same. If Lyric is right in saying “Loyalty is Royalty” then he is giving Queen Elizabeth a run for her crown. In what feels like a dark time in history, this evening reminded everyone in the building of what loving each other and respecting each other can accomplish. Music offers us the rare escape from reality while still reminding us it's there. The Sota Seoul Experience provided the rarest of feelings nowadays; a room that's ambiance was pure love and respect and for that I will be ever grateful for the chance to be a part of it.