Clipse eclipsed: Blaze spins as Malice walks

Man Mountain Jr

at Orbit Billiards

Just Blaze/Clipse
at Fry's Spring Beach Club
Saturday, April 16

Saturday I was torn.

Man Mountain Jr. was playing at Orbit's on the Corner, an event I'd looked forward to attending for about three weeks. At the same time, another event was occurring not too far down the road at Fry's Spring Beach Club: Grammy nominated Virginia-based hip-hop group Clipse and multi-platinum super producer/DJ Just Blaze spinning a set on the turntables.

That event was also special for me because Clipse rank in my top five hip-hop duos of all time, with Just Blaze occupying a spot on my list of top five producers in hip-hop history. I swung by Fry's Spring first to pick up my VIP pass and survey the premises.

By the time I got to Orbit, MMjr had already played a set and were comfortably into their second. Sonically, the mix coming from the P.A. was about as crisp as it could get. All the four pieces (bass, guitar, drums, percussion) found a tonal synergy, moving through their songs like a unified wall of sound.

There was a maturity in their songwriting that I was witnessing fully for the first time. Guitarist Tucker Rogers took lead vocals on one tune that touched me somewhere deep– so much so that I wished I could have stayed longer than the 40 minutes I had allotted. But it was getting close to midnight, when Just Blaze was scheduled to go on.

Screech...jumped in the whip, shot back down JPA to the beach club where the crowd did not exceed 250– not nearly enough to cover the cost of having Clipse perform. VIP Malice (one half of the group) was giving shout-outs on camera to a D.C.-based television crew. Everyone crowded in to get close to him. I snatched up my ginger ale and went to the main stage where Just Blaze was spinning a neck-breaking set.

Just Blaze is an incredible DJ for two reasons. One, his mixing and cutting skills are impeccable. Secondly, he's such an accomplished producer that he can hold down an entire set playing nothing but his own music. Hit after hit he dropped off songs he produced for rap powerhouses Jay-Z, Freeway, Beenie Sigel, Joe Buddens– and the list goes on. Just Blaze's supercool demeanor wasn't hurt any by the 80 grand (give or take) in jewelry hanging from his neck and wrist. He's rich for a reason.

At the end of Just's set it was evident the Clipse were not going to perform because the show had not generated enough revenue in ticket sales to pay them. I rushed out the door to see if I could catch a little more of MMjr. Alas, they had finished. I sat outside Orbit for a short while and watched them pack their gear.

Although everything didn't go as planned, the evening turned out to be quite special. I got to see performances by some of my favorite people– professionally and personally. For that I was grateful.

Man Mountain Jr.