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Time By Escati       
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania it is:

October 2001


Students unite to form one voice of hope

WAC gives audience better understanding


Editorial: We need to set higher standards

Letters to the editor:

Da playas gonna play

Men are from the "O" and women are from "Starbucks"

Court approves peaceful minute


Americans face their toughest challenge

Proud beyond words to be an American

Rude awakening just the beginning

People wait for shock to settle

Students react to attacks


Finding the sweetest pad in Pittsburgh


Review of Slaughterhouse by Gail A. Eisnitz

Street musician is on prowl in Pittsburgh


Evangelistic dorm talk with Thomas B. Grosh IV regarding the events of September 11,01

October online edition

Street musician is on the prowl in Pittsburgh

Kelly Kesslar
Pittsburgh Standard

        How many times have you heard someone say, “All hip hop sounds the same”? If you are bored with today’s generic, played-out rap and dance music, I urge you to check out two local groups.

        The first is the The Fine Arts Department, a hip-hop group that produces a unique brand of music, blending elements of hip-hop, jazz, drum and bass, experimental instrumental, and Beam, a funky drum and bass ensemble. 

     I happened to find master MC, Akil Esoon, vocalist for both groups, performing live on the corner of Forbes Ave and South Bouquet Street on Sept 15. Akil and his synthesizer were surrounded by a group of approximately 30 enthusiastic listeners and participants.  The MC entertained the crowd by rapping freestyle to mixed beats of his own creation.  This was not your average hip-hop--a fact especially apparent when the crowd went wild for Akil’s hip-hop remix of the Charlie Brown theme song. 
     Not only did Akil entertain the crowd musically, he also proved to be quite an amusing comedian. Audience participation was a huge part of the curbside show, with a dance contest and a freestyle rap contest.  Several passersby displayed their freestyle talent while Akil supplied the beat.  Up-and-coming hip-hop artist, Buc Nasty, was present and stole the freestyle show, hands down.  Nasty’s new album, Buc Nasty, will be coming to stores soon.
     It was an uncommon pleasure to hear laughter, applause, and music in the street. Albert Lucini, a member of the crowd, put it best when he remarked, “This is real, live Pittsburgh right here; you’ve got the Pittsburgh people here just having a good time.”

     Unfortunately, around midnight, the Pittsburgh Police showed up and cut the show short.  Four squad cars reported to the scene, blocking an entire lane of traffic on Forbes Avenue.  At one point, a Pittsburgh police officer was threatening the nonviolent crowd with mace.  Officer Wolfe of the Pittsburgh Police explained that Akil had broken city ordinances prohibiting obstruction of sidewalks, amplified music in the city, and holding public meetings and processions without a permit. 

     After the show’s abrupt end, I was lucky enough to talk to both Akil and Justin Straw, owner of the Shadow Lounge, which is located on the East End of Pittsburgh.  Straw explained that the Shadow Lounge, which features vivid, local, underground music, gave The Fine Arts Department their start by featuring the group every Thursday night in 2000. “At the Lounge, we feature artists that go against the grain,” explained Straw. 
        A live CD of The Fine Arts Department’s performance at the Shadow Lounge will be available in stores soon. I asked Akil what his motives were for setting up a risky, live, and free show along the side of the road.  He explained that providing the public with a free show is a positive way to introduce your artistic work to a wide range of potential fans. 

    Esoon proudly proclaims himself as the “working man’s rapper.” who provides music, for the people.  He says that in his shows he hopes to blend studio, circle, and stage performance.  “I am an MC first” he says, “and I work to move the crowd.” 

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