DJ Kool Akiem helped assemble the Star Chamber series at Honey.
DJ Kool Akiem and Long Doe's Big Wiz joined forces with United Artists to put together a monthly event at Honey in Northeast that combines live rap sets with music videos to create a new concert experience. A new batch of artists come through each month to showcase their music videos as they perform them live, and each night is a unique look at the scene from a visual perspective. Gimme Noise caught up with Akiem and Wiz to talk about how it all goes down:
Gimme Noise: How did the idea for this event come about?
DJ Kool Akiem: One thing I do is I spin videos, so I wanted to do it with MCs. I started learning to do video editing, and I wanted to do it with MCs bringing in [videos] and make it into an instrumental for them so they could rock it live. There's so many local artists who have videos now.
Big Wiz: You're doing a set live while your visuals are playing behind you. I've never seen it before. Ak contacted me about doing the event, and I was with it right away. Kool Akeim's been doing things in our city since I started hip-hop, getting out to other states and doing big tours, so it was a good opportunity for me to build with a legendary DJ. I've put footwork down for over ten years in Minnesota, so me hosting it, him DJing it, we bring the character and the charisma; add an up-and-coming artist; we try to add artists that are getting looks and are being heard and seen and have a nice buzz; and to end the night we add an OG that's been in for a decade long here, who's imprinted their name in the community. We've gotten support from these artists like crazy.
KA: I know a lot of DJs around the country, and I don't think anyone else is doing this.
Gimme Noise: How does the night work?
BW: What we're doing over here is not a regular rap show. We do kind of a dance party to start off the night, he plays music and spins videos. A video dance party from 10 to midnight. All night there's videos being played. It's cool, you'll see some of your old favorites.Starting at midnight, everyone goes on back to back to back, they do about a fifteen minute set with their videos as a backdrop, and then we do a rhyme cypher with all the MCs in the building for a half-hour to end the night. That's gone over real well; people are coming out just for the rhyme cypher now.
KA: We don't give [performing artists] like a half hour, hour show. You bring your A game because we limit to four or five cuts with the video, back to back. Even your favorite artist you might get bored if you have to watch for an hour. On some of the Micranots tours, we might have been late to the venue, no sound check, we're literally taking off our jackets and running out. I also learned that on tour with MF Doom. The point is, do it real quick and keep that energy.
Gimme Noise: You've had a wide range of artists involved so far.
BW: We've done 10, we've had close to 40 artists now that have done Star Chamber. Haphduzn, Los Nativos, Meta, Mike the Martyr, Greg Grease, Freez, Tony Bones, Rex Rap Records, Big Dylan, Mastermind, Manny Phesto, Mommy Game, Desdamona, Cleva, Double Helix, Knox, Illicit, Tek... Some [artists] have come and had their actual video release date on our Star Chamber. Jason Anxious only had one video, and he didn't want to do it cuz it was old, so he had 4 new ones filmed for the show, got 'em edited before Star Chamber [laughs]. So people are taking it like an honor to do it, and that makes me feel good. It's a pedestal, a template for them to come get scene and heard.
KA: One thing that helps us out though, too, is that if you've taken the time to actually create a video, that sets a level of dedication to the music. That's an automatic bar that gets set.
GN: It gives an opportunity to showcase the video directors as well as the rappers.
KA: The directors that make the videos want to come through and check it out.
BW: I've seen people come up from nothing in this city besides love and passion. I seen Hi-Def go to school, and we shot a few videos, now he's shooting Chief Keef and Soulja Boy videos. Jake Handegard, who was doing Rob-1 videos and hitting me up for Star Chamber, now he's touring with Wiz Khalifa and doing Juicy J videos. If you believe in yourself, it's possible. You can do it from nothing. Take a loan out and buy a camera, next year you could be on top of the world. I've seen it happen.
Star Chamber 10 is tonight at Honey, featuring St. Paul Slim, Franz Diego, Yakub of Audio Perm, and Kids Like Us. $5, 18+. 205 East Hennepin Ave