Bele Chere gets some hip-hop after all

You wanted hip-hop, you’ve got your hip-hop. When D.C.-based go-go band Mambo Sauce pulled out of the Bele Chere lineup, the local music committee had to quickly fill in the empty Saturday slot. (July 30, 6 p.m. on the Battery Park Stage.)

There’s been a lot of call for a hip-hop band this year — at least, based on a number of comments on Xpress opinion blog If Asheville is diverse, why isn’t Bele Chere?, that’s the one genre people were missing. Good news: Kids These Days from Chicago fits that bill.

The band says its “music comes from everywhere. With three horns, a rapper, a blues-rock trio and a female singer, KTD blends a wide range of influences — hip-hop, jazz, soul.” Their positive message and jazz licks remind of Digable Planets, except that at the heyday of that Brooklyn trio, the kids in Kids These Days were just being born. The band’s members (vocalist Macie Stewart, trumpet player Nico Segal, trombonist J.P. Floyd, saxophonist Rajiv Halim, rapper Vic Mensa, bassist Lane Beckstrom, drummer Greg Landfair Jr. and guitarist/vocalist Liam Cunningham) range in age, from 17 to 21.

Watch the video for “My Days”:

More about the group:

“The group poured their creative and musical juices into the same Kool-Aid pitcher at the ripe young age of 15, when they met through a magnet school in their hometown. Even videos of their earliest work, which consists mostly of covers is anything but talent show-like quality, and instead offers a glimpse of the monstrous talent contained within this 8-member band. In its firsts two years, the band played remixed but personalized covers such as a rewind-worthy eight-minute rendition of Common’s “Be” mixed with Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia,” and James Brown’s “Man’s World” mixed with the sultry Billie Holiday classic “Summertime.” After beating out 150 other Chicago bands of all-ages to win first place in the Congress Theater’s Next Big Thing battle of the bands in November of 2009, Kids These Days had officially begun their journey.

“Performing to packed houses at Chicago-area clubs like Reggie’s, Hideout and Subterranean since then, Chicago quickly took notice of the barely-legal teens with a dangerously potent mixture of raw talent and genuine passion for music. They have shared the stage with noted hip-hop artists Rhymefest, the Cool Kids, Mic Terror, and Dom Kennedy, and proved they knew how to bring a mainstream, relatable appeal to every kind of audience.

“After gaining almost instant local acclaim, the Kids began to compose their own music, spawned from the mistakes made during rehearsals and late night freestyle riffs. Since then, word of their music has gone global. With close to 8,000 fans on Facebook and a smashing debut at SXSW, Kids These Days have the industry talking and the internet buzzing, with new fans and seasoned fans alike frequently requesting digital releases, more music videos and hometown concerts.

“‘Darling,’ one of the group’s catchiest singles, is not only proof that KTD get better with every release, but also shows a more focused sound, as if they are finally settling into their hybrid brand of music, which becomes easily recognizable with each release of original material. The video spotlights the strengths of each member. The video plays out with a flirtatious unfolding sequence, and rapper Vic Mensa flows to a audience of teens, flickering lights and a smooth tempo provided in big part by Greg on the drums and Lane on the bass.

“Authenticity builds on itself, and Kids These Days can claim a degree of it that has become a rarity in today’s over-produced musical atmosphere. Their youth supplies them with an unabashed, raw attitude towards performing and creating that is fueled by an appreciation of music in its truest form. They crowd surf. They freestyle. They dance. They’re Kids. But their sound will blow you away.”


About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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8 thoughts on “Bele Chere gets some hip-hop after all

  1. ashevillain7

    Mambo Sauce a go-go band? From everything I’ve listened to they had more of a hip-hop element than Kids These Days. Not that KTD doesn’t have a little bit of that element but Mambo Sauce was almost strictly a hip-hop/R&B band with a little indie rock stylings mixed in. KTD has more of a jazz/soul element with some songs with rap lyrics over the top. They kind of remind me of a less seasoned version of Gorillaz.

  2. dpewen

    please, if you do not like music and fun please stay away from Bele Chere!

  3. Betty Cloer Wallace

    The whole purpose of Bele Chere is to have fun in the company of other people who have the same thing in mind–to have fun!

    So lay aside your worries, eat some foods you’ve never tasted before, dance like there’s no tomorrow, buy some arts and crafts that strike your fancy, hug your loved ones old and new, hoist your newest favorite brew, and every so often, enthusiastically proclaim your feeling of good cheer with a hearty “Bele chere!”

    But, it really is best to avoid the rabid bible-thumping street preachers, which can be a real downer unless you enjoy confronting them with your own opinions.

  4. Josh Justice

    Should be a fun show. Who doesn’t love getting to see new music?

    Afterwords… I am definitely going to Big Gigantic and I recommend everyone else does the same :) It will be the best dance party of Bele Chere.

  5. thad

    I saw these kids play on Saturday, and they were great! Great musicians, great stage presence, great energy. I’m glad they were booked.
    p.s. Big Gigantic was so much fun!

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