Friday June 2
My girl and I are sitting in the car swigging from a bottle of Jim Bean, we have just arrived out back behind Phan’s Asian Cuisine [check out their fb and menu] to attend the Grindtimenow’s first Open Mic Workshop hosted by Madd Illz [click here to check out his fb page]. The parking lot is full and the energy in the air is palpable. Hip Hop heads from all over Orlando and Kissimmee are here to show out for the event that will pit two producers and several emcees against one another in the *dramatic voice* Thunderdome.
I smoke one last bowl and we head inside to see what’s going on.
The restaurant is packed! A fusion of Asian and Hip Hop oriented decor, I always love seeing what Phan’s has got going art-wise. Immediately, I am greeted by several familiar faces: first to greet me is Weslee Swipes, a b-boy and long time friend, here to enjoy a night of the culture. In fact, a ton of b-boys are in attendance, some of which are members of the The MF Kidz [click here to get in the know] (local main stays of the Hip Hop culture). The charismatic Snoop, the cool Tung Phan aka Tung Fu (the owner of this fine establishment), and I think I even catch a glimpse of the prodigal son B-boy Snake; all are present among the crowd. I catch up with the always humble and polite Nate Nocks for a second as the ever moving mass of attendees stir inside the bistro. “Life is Good!”
Henny Black is next to recognize me and dap me up; Henny is an up and coming local Hip Hop Artist whose style and presence oozes out when he’s on the mic. iEknows [Click here to listen to his most recent project], another Hip Hop Artist to look out for, also rolls through – the place is becoming more and more dense and everyone is someone to know in the Orlando Hip Hop scene.
All the while, Tung is running about in the hub bub, talking to tables and dealing with the busy restaurant; people are still packing in; beats are playing; the delicious aroma of the ribs is wafting through the air; everyone is having fun and socializing – Hip Hop is alive here in Phan’s. Madd Illz is rocking the mic, as always, and calls Ryan V [Link – ] to come over and jump in the cypher as the warm up round is about to start. The “winner” of the workshop, the emcee that rocks the mic the best, will win money, as will the producer with the best beats. Ryan hesitates as his friend had left their stuff on the table. “My creepy friend Arthur Fantastic can watch your stuff,” Madd Illz prods jokingly, “Arthur Fantastic in the house!” I laugh and nod in approval as I take Ryan’s seat.
The warm up round begins with Madd Illz, he kicks it for a couple of minutes. Henny follows up with a freestyle that solidifies him as the favorite in my mind; everyone is nodding along to his versatile flow. Everyone does great, but to me Henny’s immediately stands out. Another emcee that stands out with crisp mic control and projection is Imperfect – he’s got a hat with his name on it and everything.
The warm-ups are down and I step out for a cigarette with my lady. I talk with Henny who says he’s looking to grow as an artist. He wants to branch out and, always humble, says he’s basically illiterate when it comes to writing songs. LOL! I compliment him and he graciously bows with clasped hands.
The first round is about to begin and we head inside. It’s Henny vs… I can’t hear – it is packed! The round begins with Henny leading off and the crowd quieting down to listen in.
As I expected, Henny takes the first round.
A clip of “Humble.” by Kendrick Lamar begins to play, but suddenly cuts out – with it, there is a quick rise and fall of energy. “Why are you TRYING MY LIFE?!” a spectator protests. lolll.
At this point, it’s getting kinda late! Okay, maybe it’s 11-something, but we have a babysitter and we need to get back home!
Tempermental edges out Uncle Mike in the producer soundclash too! Both were extremely dope!!!!
I dap up everyone, from Madd to Henny to Phan, all of which cast a surprised look on their face. lol! I know, but next time I’ll stay out with you guys all night!
NEXT WORKSHOP JULY 14th!!!
~ Till next time! @ArthurFantastic
Epilogue: I later follow up with Henny to see who won and he confirms my prediction: He wins!