Recap: Strictly Social Presents MeLo-X and AbJo

By | January 22, 2013 at 9:20 pm | No comments | Featured Post, MUSIC, Recaps | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Saturday evening, January 19th, 2013, Los Angeles celebrated a top-notch night of Eclectic Soul Fusion at Downtown LA’s Nola’s, the venue for Strictly Social: A Night of Beats, Bass, and Soul. The refined evening was presented by Nu-Soul Magazine, Soul Union and Project Live and featured live performances by Brooklyn’s finest, MeLo-X, with special guest AbJo from Soulection. The night was filled with melodic music, great vibes, and of course, appreciators of all things good.

The evening started off with a feature beat set from AbJo of Soulection, with the dope vibes putting the crowd in the right state of mind. From one dude rocking an African tribal cap to urban hipster ladies swaying to the music on the dance floor, the variety of the crowd was a visual complement to the equally eclectic music that was being released through the speakers.

As the evening progressed, MeLo-X made his way to the stage and the Jamaican bass and gritty synths were put into rotation. For those unfamiliar with MeLo-X, imagine if modern day funk married old-school vibes, and their children were raised with poetry by Pablo Neruda. His music is exactly what that hybrid would consist of. Being a culturally driven creative enthusiast, MeLo-X’s soundscapes is a collective variety of hip-hop, soul, electronica, and reggae. Rather than being defined by one genre, MeLo-X explains that his objective as an artist is to “fully explore the depths of my minds creativity.”

Cheers from the crowd erupt as MeLo-X begins his set with “Maxwell’s Bad Habits (The Highest).” The track is an amazing fusion of sound waves that has the ability to release something inside of you. You can just close your eyes, nod your head, and let the music take you wherever it’s supposed to take you. His well-received mixes cover artists from Fiona Apple to Maxwell to Eminem. MeLo’s most popular however is “Maxwell’s Bad Habits (The Highest)” and it even garnered attention from Maxwell himself, who described the track as “incredible.” Sony agreed with the superlative compliment so much, they requested to play the mix during Maxwell’s tour, a feat any independent artist would swoon at.

Tonight, the Los Angeles crowd was swooning as well. As he continued adjusting the knobs on his Mpd32, you see him concentrate with such a force of love and joy, that you can tell he is a pioneer representative of life depicting art because he delves in it so well that, you begin to see that his persona is released through art. After the crowd responded warmingly to the track, MeLo-X greeted the beautiful LA crowd: “All my homies in the crowd, say what up!” Whistles, cheers, and claps sound off. He continued, “So, yo- I’m Jamaican right?” Cheers again. I hear someone yell, “Schwaza!” which I later learn is urbanly defined as “an amazing occurance that leaves you with a lack of words to express the high quality of the moment, excellent.” MeLo’s collaborator and friend Jesse Boykins III expresses it as a “schwaza culture,” meaning the good life, and the distinction of having their “schwaza light,” expressed musically.

“I want to show you how we party where I’m from, naimsayin’? “ MeLo asks as if he needs our permission. Of course, what’s a party without you reppin’ your hood, right? He adjusts knobs on his Mpd32 and pulls a Jamaican flag from underneath, wrapping it across his back and lets us know, (to borrow a line from Montell Jordan): “This is how we do it.” As he begins dancing with the Jamaican flag across his back, he starts dropping heavy bass and rhythms through the speakers, and the crowd begins nodding their head as if to collaboratively agree that we’re all going to this journey to Jamaica together.

MeLo walks towards the crowd, adjusting his mic in his hand as he begins rhyming, “Now we’re working together/nothing could be hotter/feeling the fruit, this is what we give to our providers/ so we put our feet up.” As he continues, the “Heartbeats (Quadron Remix)” melody drops into the mix, it’s frequency lacing his words with vibrancy. “Fellas, this is a perfect time to grab a lady, don’t be too aggressive.” As he shimmys his hips left and right with the song, “just go with her rhythm, feel me?” Before it got too tender, the Brooklyn boy continued his set by paying proper homage to classic Biggie tunes. After all, what’s a better way of spreading love than the Brooklyn way?

Biggie’s “One More Chance,” was placed on looped for the intro, as MeLo asked the crowd to put their hands up for B.I.G. As the crowd followed suit, he said, “Now when this sh-it drops I want you to lose your mind. When I say B.I. you say ‘G’.

MeLo: B.I.
Crowd: G !
MeLo: B.I.
Crowd: G !

And of course when the beat dropped, we all knew the words because that’s just the type of crowd we are. After spreading all that BK-love, MeLo started playing old school jams such as Isley Brothers’ “In Between The Sheets,” the classic love ballad that let’s you know something’s going down tonight. At one point, MeLo brought a lady to the stage to dance with, but it seemed she was overwhelmed with MeLo’s sensual dance moves that she couldn’t compete and faded back into the background. Unfazed and with the understanding that he was probably too much for her, MeLo continued dropping gems, including his mix to Marvin Gaye’s “Come Live With Me.” He rapped “Let me bring you to my lair/ Yeah I’ll rock your boat like your Aaliyah/ you should have no fear/ I wanna get to know you/ I really want to spank you, spank you, spank you/ Diggin’ on that kitty like I’m cooking up a sample, sample, sample.” Ok, I see you MeLo. Handle those metaphors.

In all, the musical experience of MeLo-X was enlightening, inspiring and exactly what I would expect from an artist who describes himself as the god of his own destiny, because he understands the possibilities of his artistic freedom. Even from his set, I saw scribbled on the side of his Mpd32, “GOD,” which serves as a reminder that there is no limit to his artistic journey. From emceeing to producing, MeLo-X is true embodiment of what it’s like when Picasso goes hard in the paint. Simply put, when hearts speak, hearts listen and because MeLo delivers with such a conviction and energy that translates to global audiences, it’s no surprise that here in Los Angeles, we are definitely listening.

-Elainne Dizon

All photos taken by Elainne Dizon

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