Last weekend, Greensboro’s downtown art and coffee shop Urban Grinders held their Java Jam music event, which featured performances from various local hip-hop and R&B artists. A few standout artists from the lineup included a fiery female emcee by the name of LoveyytheDon, a young, passionate lyricist named Bryce Gilmore and a talented singer-songwriter, named Cassanova. Each brought a unique flare and presence to the stage, while showcasing content that was new and original.
LoveyytheDon, the first artist to perform, ignited the stage when she took the mic. As she roamed the floor, entertaining the crowd with all the latest dance moves, she rapped aggressively over an electrifying trap production. Engulfed by gutsy bass-lines, sizzling high hats and razor sharp snares, LoveyytheDon’s personality shined through as she used these ominous soundscapes to tell stories about “clown n****s” and “lame b*tches”. One standout record from Loveyy’s set was the Blvc Svnd and Blank Body produced, “GLITTERGLOCK,” which featured an insidious bell melody that was complemented by a creeping kick and snare rhythm. Like a Queen cobra preparing to obliterate its prey, Loveyy’s flow seemed to slither through the gripping instrumentation. This was a style that she maintained throughout her entire set, especially on her other standout record, “Soy$auce,” which was produced by Ill Instrumentals. Loveyy closed her set on the atmospheric “Dream Inside a Dream,” where she invited the audience to join her in a trippy, marijuana-induced Heaven, devoid of fucks to give.
The next artist to grace the stage was Bryce Gilmore, and he brought a passion that was simultaneously ferocious and painful. He opened his set with the standout title track from his 2015 EP, “Suicide.” The record can best be described as a heart-wrenching reflection of self, over classic J. Dilla production. Complete with a “boom-bap” rhythm and a melancholic, sampled piano loop, the instrumentation was woozy, creating a soundscape perfect for the type of personal, heartfelt, poetry that true lyricists love to deliver. As Bryce opened up with the hook to “Suicide,” his eyes emanated a flame that that would envelop every word he spit for the rest of the night. He roared, “I said we all live to die n***a! Emotions heavy, tear jerker, don’t cry n***a! My soul black, yo I’m the devil in disguise n***a! My lifestyle so disgusting, suicide n***a! Yeah, aye suicide n***a! Subtract the years just to try to alive n***a! Yeah, aye suicide. Uh huh, aye suicide.”
In his verses, Bryce reflects on the struggles of both his past and present, while contemplating his own existence, and even considers activating his own demise. The song ends as Bryce even suggests, “maybe death the best way to make a name.” As the set continued, the vibe took on a new tone that was a bit more relaxed as Bryce moved into another record, the Alchemist produced weed anthem, “Smokin’ On.” Bryce used this record to vibe with the audience and create a brighter tone before ending his set.
In an era where everyone wants to become a rapper and make songs about the trap, Cassanova just wants to sing about love. The lone R&B act, Cassanova did an exceptional job of representing for lovers of love songs. He opened up his set with his own renditions of classic R&B material from the likes of Usher and R. Kelly before transitioning into his own original music. The first original song that he performed for the night was “What Is It,” which was sultry, silky smooth slow jam. As he sung about love, pain, and women, Cassanova made sure to showcase his ridiculous vocal range as he easily finessed from tenor, to soprano, to the cleanest falsetto. Another standout track from Cassanova’s set was the Malik Ali assisted “Decisions.” On this record, Cassanova started off hot as the serenaded record complemented with the falsetto runs instrumental slowly crept into prominence. As the record got into its body, Cass’s voice and flow shifted into a rhythm that complemented the seductive production perfectly, and Malik Ali topped things off with a poetic rap verse as he spit, “You a remnant of a real woman, and when it come to you baby I feel something.” As he proceeded to wrap up his set, Cassanova finally blessed the audience with a full performance of the sizzling R&B heater that he teased during sound check. The name of this record was “Loving You.” The song was as pure, vulnerable, heartfelt appeal to the woman Cassanova wants to spend his life with. And as he sang the hook, “I won’t get tired of loving you, I won’t get tired of loving you, I won’t get tired of love, I won’t get tired of love, I won’t get tired of loving you,” he spoke from the heart and mind of every man who has ever been truly in love with a woman.
Overall the lineup for Urban Grinder’s 2016 Hip-Hop and R&B Java Jam was strong and diverse. From fiery female emcees, to cold lyricists, to love song crooners, there was something there for everyone to enjoy. And if you’re looking for some new music to add to your playlist or bump in the whip be sure to check their soundcloud pages @loveyythedon, @brycegilmore, and @jaguarnationmusicgroup.