My second brush with hip hop satori happened last week... a guy who looked like Popeye, sounded like a 12-piece drum kit, and riveted me to my spot. He was covering the Portishead song "Wandering Stars," each part "played" by loops of his voice that he created and then layered over one another like a full band. This wasn't rock, though, this was pure hip hop, as transcendent as the first time Grandmaster Flash decided to replay a break.
Apparently, while the rest of us were sleeping, beat-boxing moved into a whole new realm, with musicians using their voices in ways that are not only acrobatic, but surprisingly tuneful as well. The new breed of beat-boxing is some deep, powerful S**t That Cannot Be Named. "Is this for f***ing real?" said the guy next to me, drinking a can of Budweiser out of a paper bag. It was.
The performer we were watching was Kid Beyond, aka Andrew Chaikin... I could have listened to him perform for hours. He is amazing, and the audience members felt like they were witnessing something new, something this jaded music writer could not entirely understand, much less put into words.