Fourth Street Revisited

After a bumpy ride, it looks like hip-hop might have found a new home in Dinkytown

Dinkytown is an unreliable area for businesses. Besides Al’s Breakfast and a few other places, Dinkytown looks like a completely new city every five years.

Hip-hop in Dinkytown has a shaky past as well, with huge regular events at Bon Appetite and Loring Pasta Bar coming to sudden stops.

But Adam Garcia and Abhijit Misra are giving Dinkytown another shot with a new monthly multimedia hip-hop event titled Call & Response.

After instances of graffiti in the bathrooms and scratches on tables at the Loring Pasta Bar, owner Jason McLean decided to pull the plug on the hip-hop shows in the swank restaurant. The former hip-hop nights started in February 2002, and even though Monday nights consistently saw hip-hop fans lined up around the block, it ended in May 2004.

But when McLean reopened the Varsity Theater, he asked if Misra (who helped put on the Monday hip-hop nights at the Loring Pasta Bar) wanted to put on a hip-hop night at the theater.

Misra set the record straight. “(McLean) didn’t like what was happening while his restaurant functioned as a restaurant,” Misra said. “The Varsity functions solely as a venue. He enjoyed the shows and thought they were good for business.”

Misra said he persuaded Garcia – also a part of the Loring Pasta Bar hip-hop nights – to help him.

“After the pasta bar, I decided I would never throw a show again,” Garcia said. “But lately, I thought there were ways to do shows that are more participatory.”

Call & Response is not simply a rehash of the Loring Pasta Bar events.

“They originally wanted a battle,” Garcia said. “But we didn’t want that negative slant. Call & Response is about participation. When hip-hop started, it was mostly about the crowd.”

Call & Response, which forms a direct link to preslavery African music, has an important place in hip-hop culture.

“It comes from the tradition with the MC,” Misra said. ” ‘When I say this, you say that,’ that’s what we themed the show after.”

Call & Response is packed with not just MCs. There are artists and dancers too. Garcia said this allows audience members to be able to wander the club and choose what they want to see.

Ernest Bryant will be drawing on a canvas, and a camera will project his drawings onstage behind the other performers, including an all-female dance troop.

Garcia said the performers were chosen because “they’re progressive. All three have incredible live shows. I’d say 80 percent of Minneapolis hip-hop does not have good shows. The DJs are smart, and they know what hip-hop is made of, so they play funk, soul, electro.”

Misra added, “Because they’re fresh for all you suckaz.”

The first Call & Response will be documented throughout the night. Next month, the CD of the show, courtesy of Noiseland Industries, will be handed out.

“It’s giving back the night,” Garcia said, “a way to say ‘Join us.’ “