MG Productions Presents: Hungry Hungry Hip Hop
I went to my first Hungry Hungry Hip Hop event at Mississippi Pizza Pub’s Atlantis Lounge. Hosted by record label MG Productions, the event featured rappers Speno, Red Ronin, and Zenith. I was able to connect with two of the artists after their performances, here is what happened!
Being the first act of the night is no easy task, yet 23 year old rapper Red Ronin demonstrated that he has the ability to gather a crowd in any situation. The Portland native started his set with a smooth, melodic track on which he vocalized that hip hop music could not be pronounced dead because he was very much alive.
When I caught up with him after his set, he explained that hip hop was built on individuality, yet the genre has come to a place where nonconformity is rare and honest identities are near-extinct. To Red Ronin, there are two types of artists in the hip hop scene: the influencers and the influenced. “Influencers don’t exist as much as they used to,” he told me.
Of course, artists need to be influenced to find their spark, but Ronin sees himself as “the only ‘me’ out there…I have to go my own way.” It’s clear that Ronin goes his own way, as he is quite versatile. His set swiftly transitioned from lo-fi and lyrical to energetic and electrifying.
Regardless of the energy of the song, Ronin kept the room alive as he fluently leapt from flow to flow. At any point in his performance, you could catch sight of everyone in the lounge bobbing their heads, a sure sign that Red Ronin has a lot of potential.
After a few years hiatus from music, rapper and vocal artist Zenith has returned to making hip hop with a fresh mindset and some messages to spread. She started her set by giving up stage time to female artists Raquel Divar, Veana Baby, SoTae, and CEG (pronounced sage). Zenith told me she’s observed that Portland’s music scene is male-dominated, so it was very important for her to provide a stage for other female artists. This gesture is remarkable considering that, historically, female MCs have been set against each other (think Lil Kim vs. Foxy Brown, Remy Ma vs. Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks vs. Iggy Azalea).
Creating a platform for other female-identifying artists is only one of Zenith’s intentions for her music journey. Classifying her music as “conscious hip hop,” Zenith’s performance featured songs discussing politics, social justice, and spirituality -- some songs even encompassing all three topics. Her flow shows that her music influence comes from the east coast, and we bonded over our knowledge of the underground hip hop scene in New York City.
“The east coast is built on lyricism,” she told me after I asked what about the east coast could impact the career of an artist from LA. It’s true; apart from creating the genre, the east coast is responsible for producing some of the most lyrical artists to ever exist in hip hop. Zenith’s delivery is a clever combination of that aggressive old-school east coast flow and the quick choppy cadence that has become a staple in modern trap music.
Check out her latest releases here.