Looks can sometimes be deceiving at THE MIC on Wednesday nights at Ice Event Center and Grill. Tonight when I arrived at 10:30pm, thirty minutes after the scheduled start time, there were only a small handful of MCs in sight. Within minutes, a couple more were milling around, but it was still a relative ghost town. Having been to THE MIC a few times now though, I knew what would happen shortly. We seem to fully embrace C.P. time. All of us except Coop, that is. Coop, veteran Oklahoma City MC and founding father of THE MIC event at Ice, is always dutifully in the building well ahead of time. The rest of us just seem to go with the flow. Before long, as expected, THE MIC was in full effect.
Immediately upon entering, I spotted Coop. He was posted in the booth as usual along with rapid-fire wordsmith Glen Whitaker, aka Glenjamin, an extra-dope and extra-underrated local MC who also regularly handles DJ-slash-engineer duties at THE MIC.
I talked to Coop as we headed back toward the grill where I scored a copious amount of perfectly seasoned French fries filling a large Styrofoam dinner box container for just two dollars, and a sweet tea to wash my fries down for a dollar. Coop lamented what he perceived as a low turnout. Although I reassured him THE MIC was catching on and we would continue to support it, I understood exactly where he was coming from; it would be great to see Ice packed with wall to wall hip hop heads on Wednesday nights, especially considering the impressive talent that graces the mic some nights.
Still, when one considers that we are deep in the trenches, two weeks before Christmas, late at night, in the middle of the work week, at an event that is only two months old, this night ultimately has to go in the win column. But you can’t tell that to Coop. This is Coop’s brainchild, his baby, and he is watching his offspring’s development, making sure it grows properly.
Don’t worry Coop, your baby is developing just fine. You might be its Pops, but you have plenty of brothers, which makes us its uncles. No little nephew of ours is riding a short bus, it just occasionally suffers from slight ADD, but it’s definitely growing, and it certainly has plenty of talent. THE MIC has a bright future, but it does need the support of the family to thrive and be all it can be.
You never know what’s going to happen at THE MIC on any given Wednesday night. It was announced on social media earlier in the day that there would be a winner-take-all battle on this night. The battle never happened. Instead, an hour after I arrived, there was a cypher in full effect, with the mic moving fluidly back and forth between a small army of OKC’s finest hip hop soldiers. Nobody hogged the mic, and in fact at times it briefly seemed like nobody wanted to touch it at all. I planned to watch and write about the event, but the mic kept calling me and I stepped up twice to spit a couple of verses, once intoning “My rhymes is gospel nigga, you can call me King James, schooling these Baby Boys like my name was Ving Rhames.” These bars though son. It didn’t come out quite like I wanted it to, but it was a dope line in my head nonetheless.
Featured artist Josiah Eking performed a couple of signature pieces, one of which he told us featured the first beat he ever created himself. If the sound of it was any indication, Josiah appears to be harboring another gift in addition to the poetry, rap and theatrical skills for which he is already known. The beat was sick, and the flow was unconventionally smooth, expertly timed and perfectly synched to the track.
Then rapper-slash-barber Embrae Le Veen, sporting a throwback Joe Namath jersey and taking the opportunity to repeatedly shout out his 5 Nine Street Barbers Market on 5930 South Broadway Road, got on the mic and rhymed with mad energy about seemingly everything under the sun. It is clear that Le Veen embodies the relentless entrepreneurial spirit that many of the artists in the area seem to possess. Indeed, as most local artists have come to realize, multiple irons in the fire is a must for survival. That said, if you need a fresh cut, check out 5 Nine and let Le Veen tighten your do up for you. He is reportedly nice with the clippers. He was no slouch on the mic either.
Next a brotha in a tight ass jean jacket flowed a capella. I didn’t catch his name. It’s like that sometimes at THE MIC.
San Man stepped up next, with his family in tow. I don’t mean just his crew either, I mean his actual family, including his mother and stepfather. And yes ,they rocked the microphone as well. This is a remarkable family, not only because of their skills, but because of their story.
San Man, 25, never graduated high school. He is the father of a baby girl, 1, and is expecting a son any day now. The official due date is December 22nd. The MC was bullied a lot in high school, which is a far cry from the typical story that most rappers would tell, but San Man freely shared his testimony. He also transparently revealed that he suffers from anxiety. He has clearly matured a lot since his high school days. He spends quite a bit of time in the studio where he goes to “recharge” these days, finding an outlet in the only thing at which he feels he has ever excelled. His message is about “trying to make it out of the ghetto” and make a better life for his family. He is joined by his youthful looking stepfather “Junebug”, his mother who goes by “Mama No Sleep”, and a family friend, “Mizz Undastood”, a dope rapper in her own right. The whole family seems highly proficient on the mic. They finished their set with one cut that is quickly becoming a MIC favorite, in which San Man and his mother take turns declaring “you got me bent, you got me fucked up, yall niggas ain’t about shit, yall bitches ain’t about shit…” You have to be a rare breed to pull off such bold lyrics at all, let alone to have your mom saying them with you. Mom’s solo flow to end the song is arguably the hardest aspect of the whole track, which already went hard before Mama No Sleep stepped up to the plate and knocked it clean out of the park. Seeing this family in action, you clearly have them bent and, well, you know, if you think they aren’t the truth.
Glenjamin and Crunch Time (aka Greg Howell) flowed on a heartfelt original track that Glen penned after losing a family member. The track refrained “Lord help me … I’m going through some things.” They followed the moving tribute up with a couple of more upbeat cuts, including one in which they lyrically taunted other MCs saying “I’m Stevie Wonder today cause I can’t see you haters” and another in which they extolled a woman that was “thicker than a Snicker.” Though the pair of Idabel products don’t try to bring much attention to themselves, these two MIC giants are the truth. One gets the sense that they could go anywhere they want to in hip hop, but that they are also perfectly content with sharing their remarkable gifts with a handful of local fans and fellow MCs on Northeast 36th on a cold Wednesday night.
Yung Dubble came through. We sat down for a minute and chopped it up about the album review I recently did on his recent hard-hitting release titled “Animocity.” Dubble didn’t get on the mic tonight though. Instead he was in the house showing support for a fellow MC.
Mr. Area Kode, whom I had also met previously at Ice, brought a Texas-style flow to THE MIC, representing KSBM (Kome See Bout Me). Area Kode is originally from Galveston, Texas, which explains his larger-than-life presence and equally large flow, but has lived in Oklahoma City for over three years now. Area Kode, 33, had been rhyming ever since he was 13 years old. He realizes that impressionable youth are listening to today’s artists and admonishes young people that “everything you see is not real” and also offers “don’t be ashamed of what you believe in.” As for what Mr. Area Kode believes in, his upcoming mixtape, “Loyalty”, makes that crystal clear. He will be dropping “Mr. Pine Cone Fresh” at the first of the new year, a nod to his crisp, confident style and unmistakable swag.
All in all, it was another successful night at THE MIC. No, a battle didn’t happen, but that’s fine; it was merely a sign that there was too much love in the house.
Catch THE MIC every Wednesday night at 10pm at Ice Event Center & Grill, 1149 NE 36th St in Oklahoma City. Support local artists. Keep THE MIC going strong.