The June instalment of Hot 97's "Who's Next Live" artist showcase gave New Yorkers a taste of the next generation of R&B and hip hop artists. The appropriately titled event exhibited the incredible talents of subway musicians Too Many Zooz, followed by urban artists Kreesha Turner, Mapei and Tinashe.
Hosted by Shani Kulture, producer of the Hot 97 Morning radio show, at Sounds of Brazil (SOB's) in the south village, this sold-out event brought all the fans together to support these performers as they enter the next stage of their careers.
TOO MANY ZOOZ AT SOB's HOT 97 "WHO'S NEXT LIVE" 6.26.2014
Opening the evening was subway-busking band Too Many Zooz, a trio consisting of Leo P (saxophone,) Matt Doe (trumpet) and Man of Sludge (drums, percussion). Known for their musical prowess at Union Square, they have now taken to the stage. There are no words to describe how unbelievably talented this trio is.
They describe themselves as producing music that is "brass house" with influences from African drumming. The showmanship they display is undeniable, as the flavor they bring to the music industry is refreshing and unique. All three members of the band are experts at their instruments, and the breath control Doe and Leo P demonstrate while playing incredibly fast rhythms is unlike anything I've witnessed or heard of before.
Each have their own style on stage and embody exactly what their music is about; dance. Doe is the most outrageous with his pelvic movements, but put all three guys together and you have one hell of a show. I can see them playing at summer festivals in the near future; in the meantime, head to their Bandcamp for the latest in their music.
KREESHA TURNER AT SOB's HOT 97 "WHO'S NEXT LIVE" 6.26.2014
Bringing the urban edge to last night's event was Canadian-Jamaican siren Kreesha Turner. This girl knows how to get a party started. With her sexy dance moves and grimy vocals, Turner had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand. Backed up by two male dancers, Turner was giving it her all. The only problem was that her set was not long enough.
Not only does Turner epitomize the reggae swagger in her performance, but she also has the ability to stand alone and sing a ballad that reveals a perfectly trained soprano soaring the heights. Hitting notes most female singers dream of hitting, Turner was on pitch and smashed it out of the ball park leaving the crowd wild in disbelief.
MAPEI AT SOB's HOT 97 "WHO'S NEXT LIVE" 6.26.2014
Crowd-favorite and Swedish-American artist Mapei then took to the stage in a red leather trench and a pair of sequined booty shorts. She was accompanied by live musicians, Eddie Cole (drums, backing vocals) and Dustin Troy Moore (bass guitar, keys), whose high quality sound supported Mapei throughout her entire set.
Mapei's husky R&B tones filtered through SOB's and her raps were on point. She too was joined by male dancers elevating her performance, as it was evident that she is not as comfortable a dancer as Kreesha Turner or Tinashe. Her strong set list included hits "Change" and "Don't Wait," and the balance between her soulful, pop inspired songs and rap tunes had the crowd soaking up every last word.
One thing to note about Mapei is her humility. Even on stage performing, one can see that she is humbled by her journey so far. Be sure to subscribe to her YouTube channel for the latest in her music releases.
TINASHE AT SOB's HOT 97 "WHO'S NEXT LIVE 6.26.2014
Finally, the build-up to the night's headlining act was over, and Tinashe hit the Hot 97 stage. The pint-sized 21-year-old oozed sex appeal as the roar of the crowd brought a cheeky smile to the artist's face. Tinashe has had a lot of success as an actress, and now she is focusing on her music career. She is NEXT.
With killer dance moves dominating the performance, the pre-recorded track Tinashe was singing to did not do her any justice; especially after hearing her sing beautifully the night before at the SummerStage in Central Park.
There is no denying the fans were loving every bit of her set, but it should be noted that if Tinashe wants to become recognized as an elite singer / dancer, there needs to be a clearer vision for the singing. Her hit "2 On" was a fantastic way to end the night and its reprise had the crowd pining for more.
The Hot 97 "Who's Next Live" is about giving an emerging artist a platform to share their music with their fans and hopefully generate some new ones. There is no doubt about the level of talent there last night and we at Zumic very much look forward to reporting on their future successes.