Open Space is a cafe on Fairfax Ave in Los Angeles. A place one might describe as being “hipster”. Brick walls, chalkboard menus, the smell of coffee beans art on the walls, hanging-bulb lights, wooden top tables and rustic chairs.
Open Space regularly hosts shows in their theatre located in the back of the café which includes movie screenings, parties, meetings, improvs and open mics.
However, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 30, the noise coming out of the stage in the back was not punk rock, indie alternative music, or laughs from an improv show. Instead, the noise coming from the theatre was Hip-Hop and Rap performances of Orange County’s up-and-coming underground artists. Signs on the cafe’s front door read the name of the event, Unorthodox Fest.
The main artist and host of the event, Mark Henriquez, who goes by the name Gremlin, invited several other artists to showcase their mic skills and perform their work.
EG-47 the Rapper and friend Tierres, who are both based out of Riverside, were the first to perform. They performed original songs titled “4th Wall” and “It’s You.”
EG-47 has been performing for six years. He toured in London and performed a total of 17 shows during 2011, an experience he described as awesome. His YouTube Channel “EG47TheRapper” currently has several videos and he says he hopes to increase his content in the coming months.
One of the highlights of the night was Zaid Tabani, an Irvine local artist who studied music at UC Berkley and has a SoundCloud with over 2,000 followers. He discusses what his experience has been like as an American Muslim living in this country.
Tabani discusses other issues such as school loans, racism in a post 9/11 world, meeting girls through social media and living in a generation where material goods are a way of flaunting how much money one may have.
He does not hold back from taking jabs at the current establishment in Washington either.
Tabani’s style and lyrics reflect individuality and have an overall, almost gospel feel-good essence to them which makes it difficult not to sing along and jump with him. His songs have even gotten him several awards in online competitions.
“Amazing” said Ysel Loaiza, an attendee who saw Zaid for the first time. “I really liked it.”
Two other performers who brought electicity into the room were Kenny Villiami and TuiDaShark.
Villiami, who recently released his first EP “Yung Gifted & Broke” on iTunes, delivered his verses with high energy and poise. He performed original songs such as “Boom Baptist” where he discussed his surroundings while growing up in Anaheim and Santa Ana.
On his song “Steezus Christ”, he declares himself as “the angel of death recording in a coffin” and tells listeners to remain the same and true to themselves even as time changes.
The two artists also sang “A1”, one of Villiami’s tracks which features TuiDaShark.
TuiDaShark performed “Life Is”, an original feel-good track about the mysteries of life and how he uses music to cope with them.
A verse on the track states, “Let me know when you figure it out, come and tell me what this life is about … you gotta sit through the dirt to find your treasure.” Tui later tells listeners “you’re an artist.” The track is about getting through tough times and how people as individuals can change the world through art and personal stories.
Two great artists who performed with high energy were Rhyme Scheme. The rap group consists of two Orange County long-time friends who have known each other since fifth grade: Angel Rodriguez and Eric Garcia, known individualy as Vibez and A-Cap. All the songs they performed were original and produced by A-Cap.
They both mentioned how Orange County’s own variety, which is seen from city to city, has influenced their music as well.
“We want to make good and feel-right music,” A-Cap said. Music from the duo Rhyme Scheme has an overall California/West Coast rap style to it.
To end the night, Gremlin performed in front of the largest audience of the night. Couples and friends sang along with him and swayed side to side as he performed.
He performed songs such as “Real Talk” and “All For You.” His music discussed how the artist deals with love, heartache, and how he dealt with his mother’s drug abuse.
His song “All For You” reached over 6 million views on YouTube and discussed how he dealt with his mother getting hooked on meth and how at a young age he had to deal with that.
Gremlin was later featured on FOX 11 and the Orange County Register.
“This show is the cherry on top,” Gremlin said as the show came to an end.
“It has helped me overcome a lot of things … it has been helping even more people at this point” Gremlin added when he talked about how important music is to him.
Gremlin’s music is available for listening on SoundCloud.
To find out about more events that will take place at Open Space in LA, check out their website.