When I walk into a show, the last thing I want to see is an empty, dead room. Besides some tables, an old jukebox, and some tvs playing sports, that is exactly what I saw at the BeatLab. As I walked further inside however, a crowd framed by a tagged-on doorway sold a picture of intense energy. I couldn’t see who was playing beats nor could I see the stage. Roughly 25 people were facing forward. Every……single……one of them….. bobbing the entire upper half of their body up and down along to a vicious, dark beat that hit HARD.
That’s really the scene at the BeatLab. One producer/deejee/beatmaker plays 4 or 5 tracks. This goes on until 10 producers have showcased. A crowd gathers right in front of the dude and rocks with him. Everyone – beatmaker included - snapping their bodies in half, up and down, up and down. Many years ago (Mad) Skillz spit in the Nod Factor that he has “heads nodding cause the neck knows it phat” which means the person is feeling his shit. Skillz did not contemplate the upper torso and head nodding cause the whole body knows that its dope. The beats busted out at BeatLab garner that type of reaction. It’s a site to see.
Its creator, Aussie Clay Adams, who is also a rapper, curates the night. He and a friend started a similar night in Australia, which blew up. He came to Phoenix with his American wife and wanted to see the night continued. His goal is the most inspirational aspect of the whole setup (and a reason why Arizona rappers, producers, and supporters should come out at least one time). He wants to connect emcees and beatmakers. Connection, in Arizona, is the key to this scene fully realizing its potential. Clay understands that and when more people start attending this night and many others, this scene will explode.
Until then, there will continue to exist a feverish, dedicated group of people who always show up to the Beatlab because of the energy and excitement the night elicits. Such as Dungeon Destroyah from Guild (a crew of beatmakers, producers, emcess, and artists), who was playing for the sixth time and was the aforementioned beatmaker playing when I entered. Fellow Guild member Sigh rocked as well and it was apparent he was a crowd favorite. Everyone was hungry for his beats. Folks stood on stools yelling and screaming. The crowd again whipped itself into a frenzy and he stood over his SP-404, slight hunched over, twisting knobs, pushing buttons, and rocking up and down, up and down. Hardly anyone watched. They all followed his lead, rocking right with him. As I walked out, the empty room felt less like a dead spot in the building and more like a necessary break from the hard hitting beats and intense energy being generated in 5 beat intervals.