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Sonar Presses Play On Paused In Time

The club space at Sonar is always an intimate setting for local hip-hop shows, but Thursday night's release party for Paused In Time, C.O.S.T. Entertainment's documentary about Baltimore hip-hop, may have been the most relaxed and friendly show the room's ever seen. Before and between performances, excerpts of the film played on a projector by the stage, and everyone hung out by the bar and watched familiar faces discuss the scenes, while those of us who are in it waited to see if our scenes would be shown (as Michael Byrne mentioned in his review of the DVD in last week's paper, I make a brief appearance in the film).

Even when the film wasn't playing, host Sonny Brown was even more laid back than usual, speaking to the crowd and telling stories about his life in the local music scene almost as if providing commentary for the film. Eventually, that turned into a rant about the need for artists to be themselves, and not follow trends like AutoTune vocals. And when he introduced the first performers, female rap duo the Get Em Mamis, the girls almost apologetically noted that they have an AutoTune. Still, no one can question G.E.M.'s originality, and Symphony and Roxzi's personalities shone through on raucous performances of songs like "Planet Swag." And it was clear that there was no love lost between them and the host when they closed with their Baltimore club banger "Rock Wit Me." Sonny enjoyed it so much that he had DJ 5Starr throw the beat back on for him to dance to after the group finished the set.

E Major took the stage next for a brief, fun performance, leading a singalong of "Know That" from his latest solo album, Majority Rules, and closing with "Paper Runnin'," the popular and oft-remixed single from his new group, the Demonstrators. After screening another segment of Paused In Time, Sonny Brown spontaneously invited a Jamaican rapper to the stage for an unscheduled set of dancehall-influenced hip-hop, and Ty Gudda and the duo of Bar Cardy played brief sets. Then, it turned back into an informal party, and DJ 5Starr commenced playing what will probably be the two staples of every local rap show for the rest of the summer: DJ Class's "I'm The Ish" and a smattering of Michael Jackson classics.

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