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Three days after the Bmore Luv Festival and about four blocks away, we found ourselves at yet another hip-hop bill in Fells Point: the Latin Palace's "From Da Streets 2 Da Stage." And, for whatever reason, that early Sunday evening show turned out to be a much more festive affair. It might've been the presence of Sonny Brown, local MC and event host par excellence. Standing with the assistance of crutches while recovering from a stroke suffered three months ago, Brown still has enough energy and charisma to liven up a dull night and, thankfully, had enough solid performances to introduce that his enthusiasm was never forced. First up was Jade Fox, our Best of Baltimore female MC pick, running through three songs from her Ashes of Another Life with an energetic hypeman and live guitarist beefing up her backing tracks. One of the best moments of the night came from the other woman on the bill, R&B songstress Shadina. Her polished stage show, featuring backup singers, eye-catching outfits, and mostly original material bodes well for her career, but what primarily mattered to the Latin Palace crowd was that the girl could belt. Other highlights from the night included Tonio, a lesser-known artist from local label Da Bloc Inc., and a brief appearance from one of his more popular labelmates, Skarr Akbar, always a commanding presence, even when delivering a quick 16 bars. The most promising performance of the night, however, might have been from teen rapper TestMe. He's always been one of the more talented youngsters dominating 92Q's local music slots in recent years, but as we've mentioned many times before, it's also been distracting just how blatantly he's borrowed his flow, voice, and lyrical style from Lil Wayne. But aside from his trusty radio staple "What It Is," the newer material TestMe brought showed him finding his own voice more and courting the obvious less. Still, though he no longer sounds like a Lil Wayne impersonator, TestMe looked like he'd dressed up like T.I. for Halloween.

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