The new incarnation of the long-running local hip-hop venue the Turntable Club, now located just a couple blocks east of the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus, has been booking as many local hip-hop shows as any other club in the city over the past year or so. But we've been sleeping on it, sticking to our regular spot, the 5 Seasons, even though the Turntable Club is just a few blocks from home. So this past Saturday, when one of our favorite local MCs, Midas, was performing, we decided to check it out. Midas, who we first took notice of as a standout competitor and eventual champion at the Style Warz freestyle battles a little over a year ago, was at the bar, and we caught up with him for a few before heading upstairs. Midas is one of those MCs we like not just on a rap tip, but also as a laid-back dude whom you can actually shoot the shit with about R&B or how ill the



trailer looks. Saturday's show was assembled around the theme of three finalists from the "Freestyle 59" contest for aspiring MCs that was part of last fall's VH1

Hip-Hop Honors

ceremony: Storm the Unpredictable from Washington, Neuse from New Jersey, and Midas. But Storm the Unpredictable was so unpredictable that he never showed up--we kid: apparently his car broke down on I-495, so it was no fault of his own. Baltimore beatbox phenomenon Shodekeh, also on the bill, didn't make it either, cause unknown. So the remaining MCs soldiered on, putting on a nice, intimate show. Presiding over the event was rapper Sonny Brown, who is better known as an MC in the "host" sense of the word, holding down nights such as Old School Mondays at the 5 Seasons. Such duties mean Brown doesn't often have much of a chance to rhyme, but to fill out the pared down bill he kicked verses a cappella between performers, including a favorite, his guest verse from UnReal's "Hell 2 Pay." Neuse, a white kid who looked about high-school age, performed a low-key set with three hypemen. Comparing any white MC to Eminem is lazy shorthand best avoided, but in Neuse's case it's appropriate: He certainly


like he learned to rap from

The Slim Shady LP

, which given his age is entirely possible. The kid has skills, though, and it's a little depressing to consider that if he'd tried out for a different VH1 contest, he might be getting famous off Ego Trip's

The (White) Rapper Show

right now. But since he entered a merit-based competition, no one gives a shit. Midas hit the stage with two members of his Team Green crew, producer Akira the Great and D-Mic, who rocks the one-of-a-kind fashion statement of gold fronts with a Metallica

Master of Puppets

shirt. Midas is one of those rare rappers who actually smiles and dances a little while he's performing and, even rarer, does it without coming off like a cornball. He ran through "MayDay!" and "Movies," our favorite tracks from last year's


mixtape, offered some humorous real talk between songs ("I'm not gonna act like I hustle . . . but I used to steal my ass off!"), and even managed to make the beat from Nas' "Zone Out" sound hot. And in his closing a cappella verse, he opened up about his struggles with chronic depression and hinted at depths that his recorded output so far has yet to plumb; this kid's album is gonna be crazy. Since the only top-billed performers who actually showed up ran through their respective sets in less than an hour, the MCs decided to close the night out with a cipher, and the DJ threw on an assortment of golden age instrumentals. Neuse, Sonny, and Midas passed the mic around for a good long while, and D-Mic even jumped in the mix and revealed some serious freestyling skills, surprising considering he didn't even rap on Team Green's mixtape

The Hostage


. And yet another local MC in attendance, Billo, kicked a quick a cappella verse and promoted his upcoming show at Sonar. The Turntable Club's already narrow performance space was by no means packed full, but that night a kid from Jersey got to learn a thing or two about Baltimore hip-hop.