Live at the Capitol Hill Block Party, Day 3: Kung Foo Grip

photos by Brittney Bush Bollay

Kirkland hip-hop duo Kung Foo Grip are singlehandedly bringing class to the Eastside rap scene, one that’s been needing a revamp in beats and rhymes for a long while. Between the onslaught of furious raps and devastating hoofbeats hide soulful and downtempo grooves that sink into your veins and force your hips to move. The all-ages crew has slowly been spreading their frightfully catchy, head-bobbing tunes around the greater Seattle area, earning accolades from The Stranger and a spot at this year’s block party. KEXP is proud to present these rising stars — none of whom are of legal age to drink — live on Street Sounds from the Caffe Vita Bean Room on this, the final night of the 2011 Capitol Hill Block Party.

The hot and sticky Bean Room didn’t seem to bother Grip, as the group spat hard and fast, moving up and down the stage almost as often as they traded verses. The clearly tired crowd bobbed to the downtempo grooves, filled with smiles despite their heat daze. By the second song, “Orange Crush,” Caffe Vita had filled considerably, and the audience indulged in a clapping shout-along for the track’s climax.

“Crazy Ill Mad Rowdy” lived up to its name, as the dual MCs twirled and bounce onstage and the beats shook the floor (and a few dedicated fans up front). The youthful exuberance showcased by the young rappers – especially in the face of muggy heat and an exhausted crowd — was particularly present on “Tropical Dogs,” with yells of “jump!” and a lightning-fast verses that blistered by on the heels of rhythmic, borderline-chaotic beats. The crowd finally got in on the shout-along action, with cries of “GRIP!” and “Capitol Love!” The locals love their town and it showed.

The breakdown at the middle of the group’s last song “Walk Alone 2″ brought the crowd’s hands to the ceiling, in a seeming embrace of Grip’s message of love and acceptance (although it could have been an attempt to cool off with the wind – foolhardy for an indoor venue). The mild-mannered crowd didn’t get their act together for their final jumping dance breakdown, though a few devoted hopefuls did get their swag on. Kung Foo Grip are powerful performers, but a steamy mid-afternoon set at the Bean Room may not have been the perfect locale for the audience. Despite that, it was a lively set, and one KEXP was fortunate to host.

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