Tonight (Saturday), Grand Rapids’ Lady Ace Boogie hosts an impressive lineup of West Michigan’s hip hop talent. Local Spins columnist Ryan Nehring reflects on the return of hip hop to Billy’s.
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For years, Billy’s Tavern in Eastown was a popular venue for local hip hop.
Playing a vital role for smaller shows and up-and-comers, it filled a badly needed middle ground between open mic nights and larger venues such as The Stache inside The Intersection.
Local performers honed their chops, refined their performances, held album-release parties and experimented with genre mixed lineups, resulting in some memorable shows.
Last year, however, word began to circulate that Billy’s might no longer book hip hop acts, including events like Suport’s “4/20 On The Bricks.” Explanations for the change in booking policy were myriad; my recent calls to the booking agent for comment were not returned.
But tonight (Saturday, Feb. 10), Lady Ace Boogie will host a return show to the nightclub with an outstanding lineup of local artists, and not just limited to hip hop.
Lady Ace will be joined by JRob with Bedrock, Callab, Ajax Stacks, funk rock locals Flexadecibel and party maestro DJ Dean Martian.
What’s not known is whether this show reflects a return to regular hip hop shows at Billy’s or a one-off event?
However, the importance of venues like Billy’s to the local hip hop scene can’t be overstated.
Proving grounds are a vital part of an artist’s growth process, and mid-size venues offer opportunities to truly learn the craft and sculpt the narrative and image. It’s the hope of local artists and fans alike that Billy’s will continue to be open to hip hop.
Having attended dozens of shows over the years, I’ve always found hip hop shows at Billy’s to be well-attended, fun-filled affairs with a real sense of camaraderie in the room.
Let’s hope Saturday’s show is the beginning of a return to the old Billy’s and we see hip hop again thriving on the bricks.
Lady Ace Boogie Presents A Dope Ass Line-up: JROB with Bedrock, Callab, Ajax Stacks, Flexidecibel, DJ Dean Martian
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 10)
Where: Billy’s Lounge, 1437 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
Admission: $10 at the door; tickets available online here
VIDEO: Lady Ace Boogie & JRob, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”
VIDEO: Flexadecibel, “Silky PH”
LISTEN: JRob & N1, “Next of Kin”
LISTEN: DJ Dean Martian
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