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Or Square: 404 on 4/04, An Amazing Night Of Underground Hip Hop In Atlanta

Get your 4’s UP, ATL!! Ricky Raw’s 404 Day was not to be missed this past Friday, especially by those that know what’s what and who’s who of the foundation of ATL’s Underground Hip Hop.

Spread across Old Fourth Ward, a city strut up Edgewood and Auburn Ave’s to Erosol (aka Department Store) and Connect Lounge brought the reverb of Atlanta’s Hip Hop on the grind. The venues brought together the smooth of that Jazz Club feel with Erosol’s featured paintings of local genius surrounding every step past the wooden glow of the bar and the bay window hung in the corner. Its originally password protected entrance invited you to stop, reflect and become the energy of the movement. ATL’s historical frame pushed each step up the stairs that corner you right into the intimate space where artist and supporter meet up close and personal. Peaking out the windows over Edgewood, the stage was set for unmistakeable creative control.

On 4/04, 404 echoed as if the city had speakers once you followed the Friday night fR.E.A.D.om from Erosol to Connect Lounge. The balance of energy from the corner of Auburn Ave. and ‘Jesus Saves’ provided a surreal entrance to the venue of my surprise. The feeling I floated on under 85 South into more space than possible from first glance kept me vibin’ all night. Stage right was ornate with hovering spot light beams and enough room for a full band or more which left me feeling as if I were backstage with each set. The air blasted with vocals veracious in message and skill. Opening up to amps upon the more than ample patio, Connect Lounge had me ready to book every party possible under the bridge’s echo of the shade tree just to see how many could really pack the square footage.

For those in the know, the line-up was fam’ all day. So, if you catch yourself sleepin’, you betta’ find out. #PERIOD. The struggle to be in two places at once to participate in The congregation of Underground Salvation was worth the trek from corner to corner. I just couldn’t materialize for the full line-up, forgetting my multiplicity that evening, so the highlights that follow are just that because each set deserves (PRESENT TENSE!) the spotlight.

Starting midday with that breakdance essential, HBO Crew, Zulu Nation, TBB and numerous others cleared the floor with masterful agility rooting our meaning in fluid movement. TBB and Zulu Nation member, Jamal Surf Clay as well as Bboy Phu took home the breakdance championship. The infamous bass of Mr. Enok bridged light to night at the Department Store, anchoring a line-up that extended all the way to The Wheeler Boys.

Connect Lounge liaised the line launching with the impeccable cadence of BiG REC, backed and in collaboration with the one and only Diamond D and DJ Dug Boogie. Jolted into lyricism and hyped by the collaboration between BiGREC, Phene HighoffLife and MICxSIC, I planted myself firmly while the drum and bass from the concrete playground outside ricocheted into the perfect storm of an Atlanta Friday night.

As if the night didn’t start with enough FI-YAH, I proceeded to #followthehat and kick back with Atlanta’s pioneer, Dres Tha Beatnik, who as always made sure my focus was sharp, my accolades appropriate and my beatbox was TURNT UP! His finale introduced Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics who by anyone’s standard held it down. The chops on stage, the pipes projected —shame on you, if you don’t know.

The conjunction of genres and fans, the compound celebration of ATL’s finest had not one moment of disappointment all the way through to the dawn. In fact, the night nurtured my necessity as my absolute favorite, undeniable staple of Atlanta’s, the East Coast’s, the WORLD’s (!!) Psychedelic Hip Hop scene appeared. THE DIFFERENCE MACHINE shattered my existence and entranced all that tuned in clear to destruction of perception. With Johnny Psycharmy of Psycharmy Records tucked in the corner, his usual hybrid M.O. of incognito and omni-presence SUUUUUUUUU’d his way through this #SPEAKEASY while THE DIFFERENCE was made. #PERIOD.

Now, when an event can secure your stare, capture your ears, energize your existence and give you your favorite like raining wishes granted, you’d think the night was history. OH NO (!), not in the ATL. Breaking away (painfully and reluctantly), I cut a run in the time travel of The Difference Machine back to The Dungeon Family after-party just in time to conclude my experience with the underground of ATL’s Underground. Appearing simultaneously, but in opposition DILLON and #Lobsterdamus. If the strides of the night hadn’t already founded why ATL needs to WAKE UP (!) and STAY TUNED (!), DYE-lon put the best in (almost) last. This one-man phenom, comfortably in between the wily workings of Capeeton Mudfish, prepped his #FULLPLATE to share. A huge helping of personally engineered beats, topped with visual appetizers (not to mention actual paninis) Dillon introduced Lobsterdamus and LYRICS TO GO!. His presence was like the uplifting effervescence of the champagne he shared from stage and his expertise empowered the movement without doubt. Didactic, dependable and diverse, always know that ‘Dillon Ain’t Playin’.

In classic ATL style, a consecutive string of 10+ hours supported every angle of Hip Hop for those in the know. K.nowledge R.eign S.upreme expects an encompassing of: Breaking, Mcing, DJing, Graffiti, Beatboxing, Language, Knowledge and Entrepreneur Realism. 404 did not disappoint—Atlanta, are you listening ?!? ‘Cause BiGREC and all your fam want you to know that R.eal H.ip H.op I.s B.ack.

All photography by SAO, Inc.–Shelby Oates Photography

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