October 20, 2013 Leave a Comment
I wrote some words in CityBeat about The Icons, who I owe a debt to because they were the first ones to tell me about The Underground Improv, which I’ve pretty much mentioned in all interviews since. One interesting thing I found out during the interview was that Vernon Bridges used to be apart of either Glass House, the pre-cursor to Icons, or maybe even Zentradi Camp, which pre-dates Glass House (I can’t remember which and I don’t feel like sifting through notes right now).
Icons also shed some more light on the infamous Glass House vs. Ill Mannered battle that happened at The Improv. I’ll try to get around to transcribing and publishing that, just to offer balance to Piff’s take on the subject. But I also don’t feel like stirring up 20-year-old beef (again) as if we’re still caring about 20-year-old beef instead of caring about our actual adult lives in 2013.
There was a time when rap groups were commonplace. There were actually hip-hop artists who weren’t pursuing solo careers, who basically didn’t perform outside the confines of a group dynamic. Hiphop heads enjoy arguing over the greatest individual rappers ever, but many don’t get that rap groups—like A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, Outkast and Beastie Boys—are responsible for the most revered music in the hip-hop canon.
The Icons, a local group of rap vets, get it. On a Friday night in mid-August, at Sadaf, a Persian restaurant Downtown, for the release party for their latest EP, Not a Scratch on Us, they’re sporting matching uniforms, taking a cue from ’80s legends Run-DMC. While The Icons’ uniform–white hoodies, white cargo shorts and orange Nikes–isn’t as iconic as Run-DMC’s black fedoras, leather jackets and Adidas, their attention to branding displays a certain level of showmanship.
More importantly, they have chemistry. The group’s two MCs, Frosty da Know-matic and Ech-U-Sketch, trade lines back and forth constantly, finishing each other’s rhymes in a way that Run-DMC made famous.
“We’re challenging each other in front of you,” Sketch tells CityBeat. “Everything that runs onto each verse is a complete thought between both of us, so you gotta hear us both to catch it.” He also likens their interplay to “fighting for breathing space.”