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Getting juiced
‘Marinate’ soaks up three years of hip-hop

It isn’t enough that MARINATE, Boston’s longest-running hip-hop night, is celebrating three years in the scene – it’s also doing so on New Year’s Eve. " The New Year’s Eve party is going to be crazy, " promises TOMMEE (a/k/a Thomas Ballard), one of Marinate’s resident DJs. " This will definitely be an electric boogaloo vibe. "

Ballard’s résumé includes appearances at the Point, the Midway Café, Enormous Room, and the Skellig in Waltham; after moving here from Buffalo, he fell in with Marinate co-founder KNIFE, eventually setting up shop at the Milky Way Lounge & Lanes. " The Milky Way is everything I want in a venue, " says Knife. " If I just want to have a beer and play one round of Ms. Pac-Man and call it a night, I can do that, but if I want to act a fool on a packed dance floor while ‘Laffy Taffy’ is playing, I can do that, too. "

Tommee and Knife have been cutting records together since 1998, and like Tommee, Knife has played all around town. " There’s nothing better than seeing a full house dancing to mid-’90s hip-hop and R&B, knowing all the words, and partying with friends, " he says. The night has attracted a league of MCs, DJs, and dancers with names like Pseudo-Slang, Tableek (of Maspyke), Slaine (of Special Teams), Virtuoso, and DJ So & So. " Our goal from the beginning was to merge a DJ night with a live performance, " Tommee explains. " Too often, shows are overloaded with too many MCs and not enough DJs. We’re about bringing it all together in a party atmosphere. " " I remember God Forbid of the Alaskan Fisherman in a light blue suit and white gloves serenading all the girls R&B style, " Knife adds. " That night was absurd. I just remember lots of cat calls. "

After three years, the resolutely eclectic vibe has found a large Boston following. Even in a venue that’s off the beaten path of the hip-hop circuit, Marinate is a resounding success. " There’s been so many nights when the lights come on and the dance floor is still packed with people that don’t want to leave, " Knife says with a smile. " People leave their attitudes at the door. "

For New Year’s Eve at Marinate, that dance floor will include Boston’s finest breaking crew, the FLOORLORDS, along with Boston’s bubbling R&B star LEE WILSON, whacked-out rhyme spitters the PORN THEATRE USHERS, and golden child DJ FRANK WHITE. Plus, the club will be open till 2 am. " If you like BS-free hip-hop and R&B, " Tommee promises, " the place you want to be is the Milky Way. " But what about bowling? " I’ll bowl your brains out, " Knife says. " I’ve got ill bowling skills. Don’t test me. "

In other New Year’s Eve news: a bunch of live heads are at the Wonderbar in Allston — CASEROC, JESSE ALLEN, RYAN SHEA, and the Wonderbar’s own SCOTTY BLISS spin their nuts off for $35. And Enormous Room hosts the Jam Hot crew — that’s 7L & TALL MATT’s shit-hot throwdown. . . . Local indie heroes CERTAINLY, SIR got a wicked boost of publicity from some characters called VARIOUS PRODUCTIONS. The unknown artist(s?) remixed the band’s " Secret Stone " track into a brilliantly warped Grime track that’s becoming the kind of link-passing phenomenon legends are made of. It’s already selling out everywhere, but clips are uploaded at http://www.boomkat.com/. . . . Boston’s finest MC/producer (and class DJ too), EDAN, is featured on the front cover of the British music mag the WIRE, an accolade that confirms the local eccentric as one of the world’s pre-eminent MCs. This comes just after the avant-garde bible put Providence boys Lightning Bolt in the same place: despite its haughty reputation, the mag is on the critical bleeding edge . . . And just when we encouraged our international homeboys to revisit their old country, Boston-bred STEWART WALKER is setting dates for a US tour. The techno stylist plays February 10 in Chicago, and his agents are looking for other dates. More at http://www.cliquebookings.com/.

David Day spins Thursdays at Middlesex Lounge and Fridays at Enormous Room. He can be reached at circuits@squar3.com.

CORRECTION (January 9, 2006): Due to a reporting error, a DJ who has performed at Marinate was mistakenly referred to as DJ So & So. The performer's name is DJ On & On.

Issue Date: December 30, 2005 - January 5, 2006
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