Written by Imani Wj Wright
Photo by Mike Jon
About two months ago, my friends and I went to see one of the music world's most sui generis hip hop artists, Kosha Dillz when his East Coast tour stopped in Baltimore for the night. We were more than ready to see him command the stage with his style and crowd engagement.
Before any headliner performs, there is usually some form of an opening act. After female artist Devmo performed, I saw a band beginning to set up— there were two guitarists, a drummer and a keyboardist. This is a setup that I was not used to seeing in the hip-hop world, as most artists typically have a DJ and sometimes the occasional hype man on stage. Then, this high-energy artist comes on to the stage— his stage name, MC Bravado.
After an impressive performance, Bravado and I spoke for a little while. During our conversation, he informed me that he would be opening up for Hip Hop legend Big Daddy Kane on December 6, 2018 at Baltimore Soundstage.
So, of course on December 6, I'm in there. I get to Baltimore Soundstage about an hour before show time and had the pleasure of watching the crowd assemble just about to capacity. Once again, the same band set up takes the stage, and this time, even with an additional vocalist. Bravado took full advantage of the moment at hand. Performing live isn't the easiest thing in the world to do, especially if you don’t have a track behind you to support you vocally. However, his and the band's performance was evidently carefully calculated and rehearsed. Bravado seemed like a true veteran on stage. His word play and delivery of his single, “State of the Younion” hit just as hard as the kick drum on stage. And, to make things just that much better, the sound quality was impeccable. Fortunately, for the audience and the performers, there were no barriers like production issues that took away from the art.
Bravado’s ability to be so comfortable on a platform might come from his background of teaching in Baltimore City schools for five years. He currently runs an after school program at Lake Clifton high school called, “Beats not Bullets,” which focuses around music production, engineering and songwriting.
Bravado previously told me about a kid in the program who had greatly impressed him and he said, “I told him if he keeps doing what he's doing, I'll let him perform a freestyle at the Big Daddy Kane show.” The kid who goes by @Kingwuane continued to stay on an elevated path, as Bravado called him on stage to perform. Watching this go down gave me quite the feeling. Here he is only 15 with his first performance at the Baltimore Soundstage, opening for a well-respected artist, the opportunity was massive. The crowd gave @Kingwuane incredible feedback and cheers, and he deserved every last bit of it.
I asked Bravado if being a teacher impacts his style of performing. Bravado laughed and said, “Yeah man, sometimes I want to just turn up, but when I have students in the building, I know I have to act accordingly around them but still put on a good performance.”
Overall, his performance was dynamic, energetic and at times, even heartfelt.
Be sure to follow MC bravado on Instagram @mcbravado.