Around the end of this past November, I was in a bad spot. I felt like I was losing my mind and losing my love for Charlotte due to a variety of chaotic situations. I needed to get the fuck out. At a heightened moment of instability, I was checking Facebook and there it was. Mikal kHill made a post about booking a tour for early February with Halifax rap legend Jesse Dangerously and Worcester, MA’s Shane Hall. Impulsively in auto-pilot, I commented, “Take me with you.” It was a spontaneous long shot, but I willing to take any fucking option I had. When I get stir crazy, I’ll run in any direction. What’s the worst they could do? Say no?
I didn’t really expect to be received with open arms, but little did I know that I was dealing with one of the most welcoming genres I have ever encountered, nerdcore. “If you can support yourself, the more the merrier,” they all replied. Holy shit. I’ve never met anyone so willing to take a chick on the road, even if she did have tits and merch-selling ability. I was officially Princess Peach on the Humbled to Dust Tour 2012.
To be honest with you, I didn’t really know terribly much about nerdcore hip hop or anything Michael Hill aka Mikal kHill had done in Charlotte, other than play shows with ThoughtCriminals and sometimes solo. But along my journey through sleep deprived and whiskey-enhanced conversation, I came to find that the dude is not only an awesomely crass, fun and hilarious guy, he has a large presence in the nerdcore and indie hip hop community, representing the QC across the land. Through this tour and subsequent triangle playing journeys to SxSW (I joined ThoughtCriminals for a brief moment- but that’s a different story), I discovered that the dude’s got a pretty serious following. With overly ecstatic fans in almost every city, it was evident that, outside of Charlotte, nerdcore hip hop is pretty fucking popular. kHill, Jesse D and Shane drew in just about every city they played.
What it comes down to is that nerdcore hip hop is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of nerds rapping with integration of nerdy elements; be it Nintendo-based chiptune beats or similes comparing every day life to video games, tv shows or comics. It comes in many forms- from the blatancy of Adam WarRock or MC Frontalot to the more serious but still pop culture referencing guys like Jesse Dangerously, Mikal kHill or even Schaffer the Darklord. But the ultimate point is, it attracts nerds: dedicated and welcoming fans that not only collect every bit of merch they can (I was slingin’ CDs like a crack dealer in a cheap motel as a merch girl) they follow every single move of their favorite artists. They obsess over the creative- that’s what makes them nerds.
Mikal kHill has put Charlotte on the map in many cases with fan bombardment and respect from the warehouses of NYC to the 6th Street strip of Austin, TX.
But nerdcore isn’t the only place kHill has make his mark. Throughout his rap career, that has spanned over a decade, he has created relationships with prominent figures within the overall indie hip hop community: Sage Francis, Ceschi, MC Frontalot, Jesse Dangerously, Tribe One, Louis Logic among others and brought a handful of them to Charlotte to help the bad reputation our city has with touring bands.
“When I started bringing people here from out of town, it was sort of this idea that I wanted to prove to people that didn’t normally route through here that Charlotte can be a great place to play. I just put together shows that I would want to attend,” he claims.
I gotta admit, his shows, like many other promoters in Charlotte, are typically ones that I would punch a baby to attend. Fuck, as I’m writing this, I’m giddy that Sole is playing tonight thanks to the fella that gets so drunk sometimes that he rambles about stabbing fucked up people in the dick.
I confess, I’m a bit bias. kHill saved my love for Charlotte and sanity via this magical journey with Shane and Jesse D. Fuck, I ponder if I would still be living here if he hadn’t taken me under his wing. I was ready to run. But touring with people is a funny thing, there’s this instantaneous bond that comes with being crammed in a car and waking up then driving to a different city every night. kHill, Jesse D, Shane and I became the unicorn swaggle- a brotherly quartet of mythical beasts slaying every city we encountered. Who ever thought nerds could be so hard? I had forgotten how much I loved hip hop and Charlotte’s musical ambitions.
Early into the adventure, I came to realize that I was the most misogynistic one in the swaggle and I was the only woman. My jokes about making them sandwiches and use of the word “slut” didn’t go over too well with them. Shit, kHill, Jesse D and Shane Hall, on several occasions, got on the mic and ripped mcs a new one for using terms like faggot and bitch and rapping about fucking gay girls straight. These are good dudes, using their talent to encourage a paradigm shift, stabbing bigots in the dick with their sweet top-of-the-head rhymes and lyrics like, “I don’t call girls bitches, say that about my daughter/Watch how fast this shit become a slaughter.” (kHill- Only Fam). They sparked something in my soul that made me realize how much I don’t even respect my own gender.
And I couldn’t get sick of the music. Sets fused together and experimental amalgamations occurred every night. When Jesse D and kHill get together, a vortex of dope rhymes opens and we’re all sucked in. This time around for the NOFRIENDS Tour, Jesse D, Adam WarRock, kHill and Tribe One recorded a mixtape rapping over each other’s beats and if it says anything about what this tour is gonna be like, you’re gonna wanna guard your face, it will surely get melted.
Fuck, I’ve seen them play countless times and it’s never been the same experience. Not to mention, the Milestone tends to bring out the best in artists. The creative blob that is this group of fellas is something that you won’t want to pass up. Jesus, Jesse is from Canada so Charlotte only has the opportunity to see the dude a couple times a year, if we’re lucky.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that September 14, Jesse Dangerously and kHill’s show at the Milestone will be something spectacular. The dopeness of Memphis’ Adam WarRock, Atlanta’s Tribe One and Charlotte’s own Sulfur will round out the bill like a ghetto booty and be a nice reunite for Sulfur and kHill as he makes his way back to Charlotte. Not to mention, a fraction of the unicorn swaggle will be back together again.
See the version of kHill that I came to discover. See me put flowers in Jesse D’s beard. These dudes are more creative and fun-loving than you could ever imagine and with Tribe and Adam in tow this round, we’re bound to be left with our jaws dropped.
Come out. Pay respect to an unsung hero in Charlotte music and experience what I’m talking about. The room for disappointment is so small, it couldn’t hold a woodland creature.