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Local Rappers Look Out for a Friend in Need

By Al Shipley | Posted 1/22/2008

Last Friday night was an uncharacteristically heartwarming night for Baltimore hip-hop, a rare instance of the community rallying around one of its own under less than ideal circumstances. Sonny Brown, a local rapper perhaps best known for hosting the weekly Hip Hop 101 showcase and dozens of other events, has long been one of the scene's most beloved and ubiquitous figures. And he's fallen on rough times as of late, having suffered a stroke last year and, more recently, a fall that resulted in several broken bones. With Brown recovering at home on mandatory bed rest and dealing with medical bills, some of his friends and peers threw a benefit concert at the Turntable Club, to raise donations to help him through this difficult period.

Early on in the night, host Shaka Pitts and one of the performers, Ogun, set the tone by demanding that everyone in attendance stay on their feet and come up to the stage because, as they said, "Sonny can't stand, so we're gonna stand for him." Though the man of the hour was at home, his presence was felt when the DJ played Sonny Brown songs such as "Streets Is Cold" and "You Ain't Shit" between performers, and when Sonny himself called in and thanked everyone for coming out to support him.

A-Class, a young rapper who displayed dazzling freestyle skills at Style Warz battles a couple years back, opened the show with an impressive set of original material. Unfortunately, he also broke a cardinal rule of self-promotion, by trumpeting the CDs he had for sale but bouncing so quickly after his set that there wasn't an opportunity to hit him up for one. Next, E Major premiered a great new song that referenced Miss Tony's "How You Wanna Carry It" and had everyone in the house smiling and remembering the club classic, and artists such as UnReal and Ab-Rock kept the show moving along with fun performances.

Many of the performers had some words for the occasion, including PX (Parts Unknown), whose song "It's Yours" is apparently one of Brown's favorites. And Ogun's performance was even more intense and sincere than usual, as he closed his set with a somber song honoring fallen friends that he said he wouldn't play live under normal circumstances.

After a short break, the show ended with more raucous performances by B.O.M.B. and First Family Entertainment, one of the many local crews with which Brown is affiliated. But as fun as the show was, it's a shame that that it happened under such circumstances. Hopefully, Sonny Brown won't be missising from nights like this for long.

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