Yo! RFT Raps

Week of November 30, 2006

Overland is home to an emerging underground hip-hop night at Just Bill's Place (2543 Woodson Road; 314-427-2999), a sprawling neighborhood-pub-cum-concert-venue. On other nights the joint hosts pool tournaments and heavy-metal acts, but Thursdays belong to Just Bill's Basement(myspace.com/justbillsbasement), a show featuring DJ Who?on the wheels of steel, a freestyle session and, sometimes, performances from local cats such as Nite Owland Splitface. (It costs five bucks, but only on nights with scheduled performers.) It's not so far off the beaten path, swears the event's co-founder, Jason "Spark1Duh?" Karr. "Even though it's not that far, people think it's a big deal to drive out here. I even put a map on the flyer!" Karr says. (According to Google Maps, the trip is an eighteen-minute drive from the Central West End — no freeways necessary.) "We've had crazy shows where it's absolutely packed, and then acts I thought would draw more. There's absolutely no consistency."

Karr is an MC with the groups the Elementsand the 12 to 6 Movement, and travels all over the world working the merch table for west-coast rock group Bullets and Octane, whose vocalist grew up in St. Louis. He modeled the hip-hop night after Blueberry Hill's now-defunct the Scienceand Monday staple the Hi-Pointe Café (now located at M.P. O'Reilly's), and picked the spot because, well, it's a few blocks away from where he lives with his parents.

He co-founded the evening with Liz Becker, a bartender at Just Bill's Place who mentions that graffiti artists are welcome to come in and decorate the joint's largely barren walls. (She also makes a mean house-specialty shot, which looks and tastes something like Robitussin.) Karr hosts the show with Gravy, his hype man who dresses like a prep-student and generally does a good job keeping things loose. More than anything, Just Bill's Basement is about getting silly, making it a nice contrast to the more serious vibe at Hi-Pointe Café Mondays.

 
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