If you don’t pay close enough attention, you might be tempted to place Bomani Armah (Darel Hancock, aka D’mite or G-Mike) in the “profane” category, but you would be mistaken. This guy is truly a principled hip hop artist. He’s not afraid to use strong language, but it’s always for a point.
D’mite insists that he is not a rapper at all, but a poet with a hip hop sensibility. In fact, he’s so insistent that he also sometimes goes by “Notarapper.” (Although when you get down to it, what is rap but a form of poetry?) Unquestionably though, he’s not your average hip hop artist. He’s an intellectual who wants to change the world for the better – one who also has a wonderful sense of humor and knows how to get his point across.
I discovered him on TheSixtyOne thanks to “Read a Book.” The song came out in 2007 and was featured in a video on BET, but it was new to me. I found it hilarious and still do. He uses the words “nigga” and “mothafuckah” plenty of times, but it’s all for a good purpose – a litany of good habits anyone should be smart enough to be doing already – but you know plenty of people aren’t.
Check out his music and see if you don’t agree. D’mite’s music is available for purchase, streaming and freed download on Bandcamp (which is great for me, since it’s easy to embed the songs). Lots of good material there that should convince you that hip hop can indeed operate on a higher plane than the gangsta rap of Dr. Dre or even the party music of The Pharcyde.
Last time I checked I couldn’t find the original edit of “Read a Book” available for download. The Bandcamp version is a “clean” radio-friendly edit (which defeats the purpose in my opinion). Fortunately, you can hear the song on YouTube via the video that ran on BET.
I spent a good part of Sunday afternoon and much of the night at the Fiesta put on by the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Elgin. The church is raising money to build a new sanctuary and boy do they ever know how to throw a party. Great music that didn’t necessarily have to be about Jebus, games, beer if you wanted it, raffle… All the fun stuff they would’ve thought was a sin at the Baptist church I grew up in.
Part of the time I was working. The rest of the time I was there for me. Started with yummy enchiladas made by sweet little ladies in the parish hall at lunchtime, took a few pics of people playing carnival games and a guy trying to pose with a burro he bought at auction that almost got away, and ended up rocking out to conjunto music. If I hadn’t had the commute back to Cedar Park waiting for me I would’ve stayed a lot later. I probably missed some good shows, but what I saw was pretty dad gum enjoyable.
Remember the Cedar Park-based band Los Autenticos de Tierra Caliente that I saw at Batfest? They were at this festival too. Good as if not better than the first time I heard them.
But the group that really turned my motor was called Poder Norteño from Taylor, Texas. They’re the real deal. Great accordion and sax, German-influenced basslines. These are the kind of guys you meet working in restaurants, stores, etc., who you might not think much about, but who might be stars on the weekend at some little festival or dance around Texas. That’s what I love about Tejano, true music of the people.
I didn’t make this video (Wish I had. I’m going to have to get a camera that can do it.), but it gives an idea of what Poder Norteno sound like. They were on a similar-looking stage in Elgin on Sunday and they even played this same song
And check out their MySpace page. Sound quality might be a little iffy, but really this is the kind of band that should be experienced live. If you live in Texas or anywhere that has a large Hispanic population, poke around on the Internet or look for concert posters in the window at your favorite Mexican restaurant and go out and see for yourself. You could have a band like this right under your nose and not even know it. Don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish either. If you like the music, who cares? Too much music out there to get hung up on something like that.