Ridgelines at Omaha’s Almost Music

On Saturday afternoon, April 22, 2017 over a dozen people gathered for an intimate show with Ridgelines, the electronic with hip hop influence venture of local musician Mike Johnson.  The venue was Almost Music, a quaint record and bookstore in the Blackstone District of Omaha.  Being surrounded by books at a concert felt educational as he performed “01.21.17” featuring Sleep Sinatra and Hakim.  Lincoln, Nebraska is home for them both.  In addition to the phenomenal beats, the song had some amazing lyrics.

Thirteen million in uncashed checks at the Health and Human Services
The white presidents back, we about to see the purge begin
Triumph over dirt within
Get right where your work depends
Circumvent them obstacles lurking
When you out here trying to work to win

Another song performed at the show was “Good Luck” from EP II.  The song involves a lot of loops, timing, and sets a refreshing tone.  The premise of it comes from watching real-life crime shows and news stories.  This refers to if you fit a certain description and someone accuses you of something (that you did not do), you will get caught up in the justice system, then “good luck.”  Check out the video from the show and be sure to catch Ridgelines at more shows scheduled in the coming months.  These include Duffy’s Tavern in Lincoln on Wednesday, April 26th, Milk Run in Omaha on Sunday, April 30th, O’Leaver’s in Omaha on Saturday, May 13th, and Reverb Lounge in Omaha on Saturday, July 8th.


Tech N9ne at Lincoln’s The Bourbon

On a Thursday evening in January 2017 at The Bourbon in Lincoln, Nebraska, there was a sold out rap show with Tech N9ne as the headliner.  The openers included two acts that are touring with him currently, Krizz Kaliko and the duo CES CRU.  Both entertained well and hopefully gained some fans.  CES CRU performed the hit “Say You Love Me” and it was great.  By the time they finished up, the crowd was certainly hungry for the main event.

Around 10:30 pm, a man dawning a mask reminiscent of MF Doom took the stage and performed .  This was a different Tech N9ne from the past, because he used to only use face paint.  He added the mask last year (in 2016) as his “way to the future” and it works well. This is even though he did take it off at times for a closer look at the pack of people.  His mask did feel more sincere and intimate when it was off as opposed to on.  Maybe because it was easier to see him sweating and working hard to please his fans.

Tech N9ne resurrected a lot of songs at this show, but he certainly did not forget material from his latest album, The Storm. From that album his set included “I Get It Now” and he ended the night with “Erbody But Me.”  Lastly, check out his performance of the song “Unfair” from his 2011 album Welcome to Strangeland. 

Vince Staples at MAHA Music Festival

Wearing a Child of Hell shirt, Vince Staples finally graced the Weitz stage of MAHA Music Festival around 7:30 pm on Saturday, August 20th, 2016.  Considering he is from Long Beach, California, this was his first visit to the state of Nebraska.  He opened with a well known song and got his brief but impactful show underway.

Granted, it should be known that Vince Staples is not your typical rapper.  He gets very little radio play, if any at all.  And last year in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he was asked, “Do you think you’ll change the world?”  He explicitly replied, “Hell no.  I’m not changing sh**.”  At least we know where he stands.

Throughout his set one couldn’t help but notice his intelligence on stage though.  With plenty of mental dexterity in his rap performance, most of his lyrics flowed beautifully. Fortunately, the crowd was well behaved while he performed “Loca” and “Lemme Know” from his most recent 2015 album Summertime ’06. Albeit, there was at least one awkward moment during his set.  In the crowd a younger white bro yelled out, “I’m just a n*****” just after he opened with the song “Lift Me Up.”  It felt amiss, but the on stage performance eclipsed it.  Check out the video of the opener and make sure to see Vince Staples live next time he is in your town.

Ridgelines – EP II

Omaha musician Mike Johnson is set to release his second EP today for Ridgelines titled simply, EP II.  With his influences ranging from hip hop to electronic, the beats on this new album are incredibly unique.  It starts with a symphonic melody on the song “Bad Man” and then jumps to the hymnal song “It’s Okay” with lyrics from Marcey Yates and Mola-B.  The rapping on this track complements the soul of the instrumental quite well.  The first few bars fit beautifully on a great beat.

Look what was brought to me
thirteen grams of a raw from a key
Lord knows I had to make that cream
back to my beats and my old dream
now tell me how it go?
celebrate a touchdown, carry out goals
feeling good she got a crush now
all them hood boys pimps looking for a bust down
on the corner where its six deep
yellow tape news cam out on sixteenth
bullets holes grandma can’t sleep
all she really wanted was a good beat

“Deep End” picks up the pace of this EP, while “Good Luck” slows it down slightly.  Then there is the spoken word by Jade Lucy on “Who Wakes Up” that is careful, but magnificent in its delivery.  The vocal gives a rare poetic taste and acceuntuates the exclusivity of the music.

There is a chance you might be able to witness Ridgelines perform live in Omaha, Nebraska at some point soon.  Until then follow and listen over on Soundcloud (http://soundcloud.com/ridgelines) and Facebook (http://facebook.com/ridgelines) for updates.


Too Short at Omaha’s Sokol Auditorium

After thirty plus years of being in the game, the rapper Too Short is still touring and working hard to please his fans.  On Friday evening, May 13th, 2016, he performed for hundreds at Sokol Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska.  In classic fashion, it took him a while to get on stage due to the onslaught of over a half dozen opening acts, some of which were halfway decent like Nikko McFadden.  At one point there were over twenty people on stage and it was chaotic to say the least.  By the time Too Short took the stage, the crowd seemed a bit restless.  He opened with an old classic and got his show underway.

Throughout this old school hip hop performance, there were throwbacks to the late 1980’s and 1990’s.  The song “Freaky Tales” from the 1987 album Born to Mack was brought back and resurrected.  Too Short also performed “Sliding Down the Pole,” “Bossy,” and “Money Maker” among others.  Many of these songs were raunchy, lecherous, and sexually explicit, which were expected and well received by the crowd.  This was a completely different message and atmosphere than the Toby Mac Omaha concert attended just last month, but it was still fantastic to say the least.

Check out the performances of Too Short’s songs “Blow the Whistle” and “On My Level” from the show.


TobyMac at Omaha’s Baxter Arena

On Friday evening, April 8th, 2016 there was a Christian music concert held at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska with TobyMac.  It included opening acts like Capital Kings, Finding Favour, Building 429, and others.  There were notable performances throughout the evening by these openers, like when Colton Dixon sang “Our Time is Now.”

At around 9:30 pm, the main act took the stage along with his band DiverseCity.  TobyMac opened with the drop of a curtain and a bang of lights.  The show was high energy and the set mostly featured cuts from his latest Grammy winning album, ***THIS IS NOT A TEST***, which featured Capital Kings as well.  There were also a few notable songs that he performed at this concert from his older works like the ballad “City On Our Knees” and “Funky Jesus Music,” both from his 2010 album Tonight.

While the songs at this concert were exhilirating, the message itself was positive and uplifting for the dominantly Christian crowd.  However, despite these facts, in the crowd there was a four year old girl who managed to fall asleep midway through.  So while TobyMac was working hard on stage, trying to touch the hearts and minds of every attendee there, he certainly did not get everyone.  Hopefully, her mother will remind her later in her life of his message.  Check out the opening song from the show, “Til The Day I Die.”


Sage Francis at Omaha’s The Waiting Room

On a Monday night in November 2015, the rapper B. Dolan opened a rap show and delivered a song called “Which Side Are You On” and it struck a chord.  It was the first time this writer had ever heard the song, and it was filled with lyrics of truth.  In a world full of hatred, it was refreshing to hear a song drop the following specific line.

Who wrote the greatest lines of our generation,
but couldn’t get from under their own small-minded hate trip?

Once B. Dolan finished his incredible performance, and after driving all day across the country to perform for maybe a few hundred people, Sage Francis took the stage wearing a cape and screaming “I come from the underground!”  Even after having 20 years to perfect his craft, he is still working hard to please his fans.  The owner of Strange Famous Records did not have a sold out crowd this time around.  However, he did have a lot of intelligence in his words, and the attendees certainly appreciated them all, like when he performed the songs “Damage” and “Dr. Feel Nathan.”  The lyrical lunatic known as Sage Francis is still on tour right now.  Get your tickets to his upcoming shows at strangefamousrecords.com.

Check out his opener of the song “Escape Artist” from his 2005 album, A Healthy Distrust.

Atmosphere at MAHA Music Festival

It was right around 6:50 pm on Saturday, August 15th when Atmosphere took the stage at MAHA Music Festival at Aksarben Village in Omaha, Nebraska.  This hour long set would leave a mark on the attendees.  The crowd smelled of alcohol and green, and as Slug and Ant started their show with “Sunshine” it was evident that even the birds were bumping to the beat at this concert.

So many songs from the early 2000’s were revived, including many hits from their older works. Sean Daley performed many songs from the Lucy Ford EP this time around.  The anthem “Don’t Ever ******* Question That” was a great inclusion.  Also from the same Extended Play, “Guns and Cigarettes” was delivered.  Lastly, his a cappella of “The Woman With The Tattooed Hands” was legendary.

As the sun set behind him, there was a moment while he was on stage when Slug said, “My name is Sage Francis.”  He then performed a song called “Embarrassed” that featured the late Eyedea and Sage.  The show did come to an end with one of their most popular ballads, “Trying To Find A Balance” from Seven’s Travels.  It was epic. Lastly, check out the performance of the song “Kanye West” from their most recent 2014 album Southsiders.

Kid Cudi at Grassroots Music Festival

The first night of Grassroots Music Festival 2015 was a hot and slightly chaotic experience. Thousands of people squeezed into Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday, July 31 and an estimated 2,000 waited outside for an hour just to get in. The only good thing about this event was the music and performances by the artists. Logic as an opening act was memorable and some appreciated when Mac Miller said, “Where the titties at?” His choice words for Donald Trump were appreciated as well. But it was the main performer of the evening, Kid Cudi that absolutely saved the day.

Kid Cudi took the stage around 10 pm under a full moon and the crowd went nuts. He said, “Holy F***! The weed smells good!” And there were many smells of the plant throughout the crowd for sure. He put on a brand new song called “Confused” from his upcoming album Speedin Bullet to Heaven. When he played the popular ballad, “Pursuit of Happiness” it was sheer intoxication that took over. And thankfully, he also played the song “Mr. Rager” as well. Check out the video of the song and do not miss him next time he is in your town.

Nappy Roots at Hullabaloo Music Festival

On a beautiful summer night in Nebraska, Nappy Roots performed for a large crowd at Hullabaloo Music Festival.  There is not a music act today that exemplifies the so-called Dirty South quite like them. They hail from Bowling Green, Kentucky, a college town of over 50,000 people and a place that is more known for the Corvette Museum than breeding rap groups. But it is the small town home of these old country boys that sing of a world where gravel roads are more common than urban highways. Many of their lyrics would be expected to be heard on a country music station.

This concert was special for a few reasons. One different aspect was the crowd that made the event. It felt a bit like the circus due to a flame thrower, person in a wolf mask, and of course, the kids breaking up fluorescent necklaces and smearing them everywhere. Plus there was a child on a small unicycle. Next year, if you are in Nebraska, do not miss out on Hullabaloo. And if Nappy Roots ever come to your town you should take the opportunity to witness them first hand. Check out the performance at the festival of the song “Awnaw” from their 2002 album Watermelon, Chicken, & Gritz.