Cranky Pat’s – Neenah 5/12/16 9:30 – 1:00 $20 cover
With two decades of discography planted in the ground and yet again reaping the benefits of what they have sown with another instance of their mega hit “Good Day” making the silver screen as a feature song in Disney’s summer hit The Secret Life of Pets, Nappy Roots is deeply ingrained in classic Hip-Hop and pop culture. All five current members including newly added 808-Blake of SKMA were present for an unprecedented visit to Neenah, WI at Cranky Pat’s Pizza this past May, the 12th to be exact.
Cranky’s programming recently taken up by FACE Entertainment’s very own Adam, host and opener kept the blood flowing for a 9:30 PM start to the night. Since the early 2010s between Neenah and Appleton Adam heads up more than 40 shows a year under the title of Bo 1 Katt the Imposter bringing names like Krayzie Bone, Bubba Sparx, Obie Trice, Petey Pablo and Kutt Calhoun around. Lineups of this nature come to Cranky’s every few months and according to Adam this was “the 3rd bomb ass Hip-Hop party in a row.”
His own routine as an emcee was nothing to overlook either. What stuck out to me were moments where his material used backing tracks stacked with vocal emphasizers to highlight reprises that are easy to memorize so that I could join along in shouting ‘It’s Time to Get Down’ as the show was getting started. Adam was one of six on the bill to call the Fox Valley home turf.
Cranky’s may serve thin crust but the sauce was laid on thick with no shortage of entertainers to ensure that not only the hungry audience was satisfied but the headliners got something homegrown to take away from a visit to Neenah. R.Braille, who has been “following Nappy Roots since 2001” joined Bo 1 Katt to give a taste of his own style with the Wisconsin bloodline laced into his routine, hustling cuts and blitzing through a handful of material with help from David, DJ IRS.
IRS was brought in by the efforts of Stream of Consciousness, a self-proclaimed “product of the 80s.” Stream had me clocking in his verses at speeds exceeding that of a DeLorean going into time travel and put down the fastest spitting of the Fox Valley that night. Out of the half dozen billings he has been a part of at Cranky’s he says “the shows have gotten better and better every time.” DJ IRS and Stream of Consciousness closed out an impromptu finishing move as the last act before clearing the stage for the solid hour + of Nappy.
The image that sticks with a Nappy Roots Not Regular Tour visit besides the occasional line formation dance routine, passing off verses like hot potato and giving a line of Kentucky Bourbon shots out from on stage, is a rooster with a big ball of hair as the album cover art for the 40 Akerz Project. I wasn’t chicken to keep up with the action but over the course of the evening the sensational persistence of syllables and crisp tunes fried off the split ends from my soul’s afro and I had to simply just hold on to my hat. I took my hand at seeing just how clued in the internet was to these guys these days by cueing up Shazam mid-show in attempt to catch a song title and sure enough, “Set It Out” popped up on my iPhone screen like it was reading a radio broadcast.
After the show the five members Skinny Deville, Ron B. Clutch, B. Stille, 808-Blake and Fish Scales and their road technician stuck around to be personable. Scales says that starting this year the North Mid-West is the Roots’ location of choice at this phase of the spring season, now just over a full week on the road away from home and days after the latest Roots release to get packaged and distributed. In his own words, it’s all part of “figuring out the game.”
Fish Scales hints at more 40 Akerz yet to come in the same style as in-between releases like “Concrete Pavement” dropping as recent as this past New Year. Doning slick dreads and shades, Ron Clutch says that the 40 Akerz Project has been in the making “for the record, 2 years.” Adam says bringing the Kentucky natives to the Fox Valley was an effort “more than like 4 and a half years in the making.” As for visiting other Wisconsin cities Clutch says “we just left Watertown, we were in Madison. Wisconsin shows a lot of love. Y’all got more respect and understanding sometimes for hip-hop than a lot of other places you would think has love and respect.”
Much respect to Cranky Pat’s, FACE Entertainment and all those involved in coordinating. I was surprised that a small pizza parlor serving 125 ticket buyers could be the destination to throw down for a music group that has logged millions upon millions of views on YouTube, but the unique L-shaped architecture for a double-ended bar really works. If you hear Cranky’s and only think restaurant pizza you are missing half of the picture because right now the listing has one of the better sound and lighting rigs for a Valley venue with a menu. Cranky Pat’s has locations in Neenah, Green Bay and Oshkosh and serves oven fired thin crust pizza past 2:00 AM on weekends. After the show eased down by 1:30 AM there was still plenty of time to munch while members of Nappy Roots stood by their merch table. Thursdays on 905 S. Commercial St. are a 3:30 AM close.
Worth mentioning, Father Focus Confucius, of the Dead Rabbits Crew made a special birthday weekend visit coming in to perform from La Crosse. No fluff involved in his style, he sports the walk and the talk of representing what it means to be hip-hop to the core, making roasted marshmallows out of tycoons like G-Eazy. Evan Ramsey from down the block rocked a four song set of both his own original production as well as waveforms coming in from Minnesota. When the right combination of pace and space between sentences aligns you have Ramsey’s ‘Intergalactic.’ Utilizing the power of Maschine to construct an album crafted with a title like “Robots & Skateboards” where can you go wrong?
Wrapping up here, Hector Biggz with BiGGeR ProDuctionZ coming in to “rise grind and shine for 7-figure dreams” might have been what coaxed a group to roll in and out on a limousine and buy Grey Goose bottle service because big spending was not out of the picture. 7-figures is easier said than done but for Nappy Roots if you were to count riches in terms of play counts then just skim through YouTube again to see what kind of millions matter to this scene.
UW Oshkosh most eligible Bachelor of Music