Doomtree at Roosevelt High School, 4/26/13
Photo by Erik Hess
Roosevelt High School Auditorium, Minneapolis
Friday, April 26, 2013
"Good morning, Roosevelt." With these words, Dessa quieted the chattering group of students and fans inside the south Minneapolis school's auditorium. During one of the first nice days of 2013, a select group of aspiring artists and poets marked the occasion by gathering indoors for a show that was a surprise to the public, but had obviously required a lot of planning.
Wrapping up a 10-week residency at the school teaching the poetics of hip-hop, microphone skills, and live presentation, Doomtree emceed a string of student performances -- featuring Lazerbeak providing backing beats -- and then put on their own full-length set afterward. It was a showcase that had the nerves and drama of a school play -- except it was a rap concert.
The students' contributions were all impactful -- ranging from poetry to spoken word to full-on rap rhymes. Personal reflection and individuality ran heavy throughout the offerings, and it was easy to imagine some of these young performers taking a permanent liking to being on stage. In a red-brimmed cap tilted just so, Bri LeGarde a.k.a. Skildum was mesmerizing delivering the complex couplets of "Thank You," which played out as a list of the many hardships that are essential for artistic growth. Jayson "JT" Hosley a.k.a. Suave boldly offered "The Perfect Song," which was impressively poised and well-spoken from a high schooler's perspective without sacrificing any of his flow.
Photos by Erik Hess
While Lazerbeak laced a variety of beats behind the young performers -- including a K-os instrumental and a surprising bit of Ram-era Paul McCartney -- the crowd inhabiting the floor seats of the auditorium erupted in support of their friends.
After giving props to all of the poets and rappers who prepped a performance, Doomtree assembled onstage. (Sans Paper Tiger and Cecil Otter, who was "at home making beats.") "You ever been to a rap show in a high school auditorium before?" Sims asked the seated crowd. "Come up and make it less weird!"