Industry showcases tend to be more of a social event than a place to hear music. Since most people tend to work with music in some capacity, nobody gets really hype. Instead, everybody’s busy being professional: meeting people, tweeting, trying to cover the $25 minimum on credit cards at the bar, and navigating the VIP section, which was more crowded than the general admission floor. Full disclosure: I was in VIP for like two minutes at last week's BMI Know Them Now showcase, and the only discernible difference was more prevalent weed smoke. The acts on the Know Them Now bill—upcoming R&B singer Ro James, blues/rap duo CharlieRED, and rapper Big K.R.I.T.—were uniformly great, and on the whole it was a lot of fun, but everything still felt kind of antiseptic.
But whatever, here’s what you should know about these acts, all of whom were genuinely exciting and great:
Ro James is described by BMI as “a smoldering tenor.” I don’t know if the tenor part is exactly true because aside from The Three Tenors, I know nothing of male voice pitches. So while he didn’t sound like Pavarotti, he was pretty dope. As for “smoldering,” yeah, I would agree. If nothing else there was tons of crotch grabbing, which seems to fit the definition of smoldering pretty well. Ro James did a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” which compared well to the original, before launching into his own original material off his upcoming EP Coke, Jack and Cadillacs. Ro James seems to still be developing his own aesthetic, so it’ll be interesting to see how his EP ends up. (Further Disclosure: I was in VIP to meet Ro James. We spoke briefly about how awesome D’Angelo is.)
CharlieRED’s music has been featured on VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop,” which is a disservice to how good their music is. They—the group is comprised of rapper Rocki Evans and producer Cobaine Ivory, who wore the dopest “Pug Life” t-shirt last night—do what can best be described as blues-rap: Rocki Evans’ voice is soulful and scratchy in a Robert Johnson way, and Cobaine Ivory’s beats are great when perfomed live. The duo recently released an EP called Religion which is worth your time.
From my understanding, BMI showcases are usually capped off with an established artist. Five years ago it was Ron Browz (man, they were way off on that one.) This year it was Big K.R.I.T., who will hopefully never become Ron Browz. If you don’t know K.R.I.T. by now, you probably haven’t been paying attention to rap music.
K.R.I.T.’s set was short—about five or six songs, including two off of his upcoming tape King Remembered In Time—but he was exciting and energetic. K.R.I.T. was the only one to perform without a live band, which seems like a negative, but he was also the only one whose songs made the earth literally quake—I felt that bass in my soul.
At one point I noticed somebody next to me jumping and getting real hype about K.R.I.T. It was Rocki Evans.
Somebody referred to Martin Spasov as a "writer" at the BMI showcase, which was generous. Tweet him - @RealMarvon