Blueprint leads a pack of heavy-hitting hip-hop Buckeyes from Columbus 

Solstice is almost upon us, and with the ill-tempered Tennessee humidity squeezing out every last bit of hydration, soaking every last inch of flesh, daylight is at its zenith. Nights are shorter, days are lazier and we could all use a million extra kilowatts of A.C. All told, it's the perfect weather for left-of-center hip-hop that's hot like fire. This Friday at Exit/In there are five top-notch acts to fuel your conflagration.

Columbus, Ohio, is rarely cited as a hotbed of hip-hop activity, but if the clique they're sending down this weekend is any indication, we've all made a glaring omission—it's time for America to discover Columbus. You may know the headliner, Blueprint, as the rapper from Soul Position, his collaboration with noted indie hip-hop producer RJD2 on Minneapolis' vaunted Rhymesayers Entertainment label. Or, then again, you may know his productions for artists like Aesop Rock,Vast Aire and MURS; or maybe you know his solo records, like the recently released Sign Language—a brooding, grooving companion to jazz and musique concrete's bastard children. The dude has a helluva résumé and you know he can get the job done.

MC Illogic, also of Columbus, used to roll with Blueprint in a group named Greenhouse Effect, and for a brief time earlier in the decade flirted with Next Big Thing status before dropping rap life for family life. Based on the sheer joy and excitement on his new album Diabolical Fun, Illogic's five-year fatherhood-hiatus was well spent. Songs like "Get Up or Get Down" and the titular track bang with a rare wisdom and maturity, or to say it another way: Illogic knows how to craft a great song and he's not afraid to let you know. Weightless Recordings label mate DJ Rare Groove joins Illogic and Blueprint on their road trip from the Buckeye State, and while there might be a dearth of information on him, the two tracks he's posted to MySpace show that there's no mystery regarding the kid's skills or taste.

Representing the home team in this funky, funky slugfest are two members of the Count Bass D camp: DJ Bowls and rapper/poet/must-read-blogger Oriana Lee, plus everybody's favortie local TV chef and hip-hop entrepreneur, Big Fella. Bowls has been a resident at two of the city's hottest monthly club nights, The Boom Bap and Funky Good Time, for the last few years. Oriana Lee, manager and wife of local legend Count Bass D, is an undisputed master of vocabulary and delivery. She'd be hip-hop royalty if Nashville had that sorta thing, but I have the feeling she relishes our egalitarian underdog status as much as I do. As for Big Fella, well, just mentioning him will bring a smile to the face of the most hardened hipsters. He's one of the most amiable people and entertaining hosts in town and it's a sure shot that he'll crank up the heat and get the party cookin'.



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