2016 has already been looking a little grim. My friend Joe buried his grandfather this week. We’ll be burying my friend Sid in the next few days. And I learned a few other people I know, but don’t know well, are badly sick, in a bad way.
So it was already time for a party.
Granted, it’s usually time for a party. You don’t need death close enough to tweeze your eyebrows to feel the righteous urge to put a few back and dance. And Albuquerque producer-emcee Def-I‘s new album, Shields for Raining Arrows, is a great reason to get out and get down.
It was preceded by a solid writeup in the Alibi, Def-I’s own promotions machine, and years of craft-honing. He tore it up.
But Def-I isn’t a stage-hog. Just as if you met him at the smoothie shop he’d shake your hand warmly, and ask sincerely what you do, he brought that warmth and will to connect in a bunch of other up-and-coming performers. Beat-maker Per C Wells, emcees Katrina Benally & LETSJUSB, Wake Self, and reggae band Innastate all partied on. And by the time the man himself took the stage at midnight, a circle had already cleared for b-boys, local live-painters had finished new spontaneous work, and the crowd was ready to burn the walls. I mean, jeez—he gave you a copy of the album just for buying a ticket.
I hope everyone will forgive me for saying he was my favorite act. His skill on beat, and a cappella, is decisive. He inhabits the stage as he inhabits his body, like a slingshot. He feels the crowd and moves with them, pushes them the way you push a dance partner. In fact, dance is a good metaphor for all of what Def-I does. He’s a bit of a marvel.
I wish so much success to every Burque artist.