Sean Hoeksema, a.k.a. Strange 2ruth, performs during The Comeup at Bloom Nightclub. The monthly event provides a stage for aspiring rappers. Photo: Tyler Harper

VIDEO: At The Comeup, young rappers sink or swim

The monthly show gives aspiring MCs a coveted stage

Sean Hoeksema knows the exact day he found his voice.

Hoeksema, who raps under the stage name Strange 2ruth, had tried to get on the bill for an Xzibit show in his hometown of Cranbrook. It didn’t happen, but the promoter promised him a spot in the next show.

That came on Dec. 14, 2012, a date Hoeksema can recall without hesitation, when he opened for Mad Child of Swollen Members.

“I remember by the third or fourth track, it was so hot,” said Hoeksema. “I had to, what I called it at the time was I had to pull a Tupac, I had to take off my shirt and just rap my heart out, and it won over a lot of people.”

Hoeksema was in Nelson on Thursday to perform at The Comeup, a monthly event at Bloom Nightclub meant to give young MCs a venue of their own.

Hoeksema, 26, has been rapping for eight or nine years. He said he’s known locally for his battle rapping, but on Thursday he hit the stage at Bloom to get coveted performance time.

“It’s very critical, especially in gaining the confidence to just even be in front of people. There’s breath control involved especially in hip hop. You’ve got some songs that have 300-to-600 words in under two-to-three minutes. It’s baffling how we can do that.”

The Comeup was created by Bloom promoter Peter Payne. He’s been putting on shows in Nelson since 2000, and can recite the local rap scene’s history going back 25 years to when the former Avalon Nightclub was putting on hip-hop events.

There are no shortage of rap fans in Nelson — Payne said he’s gone from once putting on perhaps two shows a month to 12 — but the popularity of the genre can make it hard for aspiring rappers to find the spotlight.

“Typically in the world of hip hop it’s pretty tight,” said Payne. “If you’re coming in to try to get into a show to perform, you must have some sort of connection to the show or to the other artists who are performing. Otherwise there’s very limited space to perform.”

Part of the draw of The Comeup is its unpredictability. Payne notes there’s no cover charge for the event, which means people on Bloom’s dance floor don’t necessarily owe anyone on stage their support.

But that also leads to surprises as well.

“We had a kid from Trail show up with cornrows and come in and have the most different sound, and by the end of his set people were actually receptive to it,” said Payne. “At first I could see them [thinking], ‘Hm, I don’t know about this guy’ and then by the end of it he’d actually made new fans.”

Among the people in the audience for Hoeksema’s set were Tom Organ and his father Don. The pair showed up to support young rappers, which many years ago would have included Tom.

Tom grew up in London, Ont., and became a hip-hop fan in the early years of rap’s pop-culture ascendancy (a New York Times headline in 1988 reads: “It’s Official: Rap music is in the Mainstream”).

“I remember at our Grade 8 grad it was all Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, which is not something a 13 year old should be listening to but it’s a fantastic album.”

Tom said he wrote his first track in 1994 at age 14, and had his first performance just two years later. Don, who would later be a regular at his son’s shows, remembers how important writing rhymes was for Tom well before he had a mic in hand.

“When he was six years old he would go to bed with a little pad of paper and this is how he would go to sleep, [by] writing poetry.”

Now 38, Tom is a father and husband with more pressing priorities than spitting verse. But he still feels a responsibility to hip hop, and its future artists.

“You can bring in all the acts that you want, and all the big shows and whatnot and people can be inspired,” said Tom, “but if you just give [young rappers] a bit of space, I think that it’s really important.”

“And encouragement,” added Don with a knowing smile.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Because there’s no cover charge, rappers at The Comeup have to earn audience support. Photo: Tyler Harper

A local beatboxer adds some rhythm to a performance during The Comeup. Photo: Tyler Harper

Just Posted

Leafs beat Nitehawks for 8th straight win

The win gives Nelson a provisional division lead

Castlegar march ensures missing, murdered aboriginal women not forgotten

About 60 people took part in the Valentine’s day memorial

Jenner scored 2 in debut as Leafs beat Thunder Cats

Nelson is on a seven-game winning streak

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Murder of sex worker exposes Canada’s hypocrisy on prostitution: advocate

A 2014 law made purchasing sex or benefiting from the selling of sex illegal

Wet’suwet’en return to northern B.C. forest road pipeline workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Over a dozen birds found mysteriously dead on rural B.C road

Ministry of Agriculture notified of the strange occurrence on No. 4 Road in Abbotsford

B.C. men arrested after theft of heavy equipment leads to highway blockade

One man surrendered to police while the other was taken into custody the next morning, RCMP say

PHOTOS: Trans Mountain hosts mock oil spill response practice in Kamloops

Practice comes after an excavator accidentally struck the pipeline near Jacko Lake in mid-February

Federal Indigenous services minister meets First Nation at rail blockade

Blockade on Tyendinaga Mohawk territory near Belleville, Ont., is in its 10th day

Canada’s flag was flown for first time 55 years ago today

The flag is used to celebrate wins in sports, honour Canada Day, and flown at half-mast after tragedy

Most Read