Neeks, Night Game Cult El Sibil Saturday, June 16
Often, when there are six people on stage at a hip-hop show, you're in trouble. You get some limp attempts at verses, some blunted flow, too many stoned rappers bumping into each other. Neeks, who performed at Oak Cliff art space El Sibil as part of the Oak Cliff Film Festival, work as a whole, a group of longtime Denton musicians who just so happen to love hip-hop, have a sense of humor, and are smart about it.
Craig Welch (Brutal Juice) and Ashley Cromeens (Record Hop) are the emcees, Sarah Alexander (Violent Squid) and Theresia Munywoki are the backup dancers/singers, Julie McKendrick (Vulgar Fashion) was the auxiliary "chiller" in the background, wearing a giant clock chain and sunglasses. And DJ Grant Ring provided the soundtrack. Beyond the songs, heavy on '80s and '90s beats, Neeks provided something you don't see often within the genre.
Like, choreography: During one chorus, all six members body rolled left to right, alternating sides like a Soul Train dance line. There was Munywoki and Alexander dance-humping on the floor in the most avant garde way possible. There was a slide whistle solo, and the ripping off of homemade Neeks t-shirts as the climax to one song. It's the spectacle of hip-hop writ large, the performance aspect embraced.
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I was happy to finally catch Night Game Cult, in what was possibly Kyle Cheatham's last show under the moniker, after years of friends telling me about his storied live shows. Cheatham, shirtless with the word "Soul" written on his chest in magic marker, had a few technical difficulties, as he was playing his backing beats on an actual Discman, which only heightened his homemade aesthetic and take on performance as spectacle. It was one of those sets that might go off the rails, that had a certain tension, but there was a freedom in being in the room with it.
By the way: McKendrick took the mic to perform what may have been an Eazy-E cover.
By the way part two: More slide whistle solos in rap, please.