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December 29, 2011

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Come Correct is about golden age of hip-hop

YOU take a step. The lights from the streetlamp dim. You take another. The sound of the city begins to fade. Another step. The air now feels damp. A few more steps, and the echo begins to compete with a deep bass sound: the heartbeat of Shanghai.

Taking the step at Shanghai nightclub Shelter (5 Yongfu Road) can be a descent into the underground of the city in more ways than one. That's because every Wednesday, Shelter's subterranean concrete walls and exposed piping prove the perfect home to Come Correct, the event for underground hip-hop in Shanghai.

No movement has consistently provided the soundtrack to urban life better over the past few decades like hip-hop, the subculture that encompasses rap music, break dancing and more.

Underground hip-hop refers to the least commercial elements of rap music. The music can be cerebral, with complex rhyme schemes, dense slang and surreal or impressionistic imagery. If you're not paying close attention, the lyrics can fall past you like torrents of rain. Although the DJs of Come Correct promise more than the more obscure thread of rap artists, this is what people come for.

"It's about fluency with rhymin' ingenuity," says MC T-Plus, quoting a lyric from rapper Del The Funky Homosapien, a performer whose songs are frequently played at the event.

T-Plus is from Los Angeles and is one of the regular DJs for the event who also occasionally raps. "I'm into things that when you listen to it," he says about his favorite rap music. "It really puts you on a trip."

He says the time frame of the music stops at about 1998 and features "mostly golden age" hip-hop.

"Golden age" refers to what many say is the richest time for hip-hop music. It was a period from about 1988 to 1992 that featured intense competition to make music with a personalized voice.

T-Plus is joined at Come Correct by DJ Caution.

Caution is from Chicago and has been a DJ for 15 years. He describes Shelter as "dirty and grimy" - which can also be used to describe some of the music he mixes into his sets. He cites New York duo Heltah Skeltah as one of his favorites.

Heltah Skeltah, like a lot of the performers featured in the mixes by Caution and T-Plus, features vivid depictions of violent and/or illegal activity.

What makes this music so unique, is that often the most obscene rappers are also the most cerebral. Most people use curse words as a crutch. A good rapper uses it as color to flavor his lyrics. It's like any type of art: when you're young, you expect something beautiful. As you mature, you appreciate artists that may prove more confrontational.

Overall, that's a perfect description for a night out at Come Correct, an interesting if somewhat challenging musical night out in Shanghai. In that, the phrase that birthed the event's name proves prescient: come correct, or don't come at all.


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