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Graffix

In the past six months, we've been noting more and more shows of interest going on at the

, a recently rechristened Dundalk venue previously known as the Zu. We'd been procrastinating checking it out because we so rarely make it to that part of the Baltimore metro area for any other reason, and let's face it, it smells kind of funny out there. But on Wednesday, we finally hit one of the Black Hole's weekly "Hip Hop At The Hole" nights, which places an emphasis on booking local MCs and offering ladies' night drink specials.

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The latter distinction turned out to be key, as the bar was well stocked with patrons male and female, all tipping back a few. And once the show got started, it turned out that drunk white girls from Dundalk are a great audience for underground hip-hop. They might not know the MCs' songs, and they may not buy a record after the performance, but dammit they're gonna dance and make noise like true believers anyway. Hip-hop spots within city limits like 5 Seasons might want to think about busing in some Dundalk girls to get the party started on slow nights. Unfortunately, DJ Illah spun a sometimes tepid selection of mainstream hits that were generally at least two years stale. Let's face it, if you're at a hip-hop show and the DJ is playing some old-ass Jennifer Lopez song that wasn't even that popular at the time, something is wrong.

The night's performances came from the roster of local label

: first a set by Graffix, featuring a guest appearance from B-Amazing, and then a set by B-Amazing, with Graffix on hypeman duty. Graffix's material was competent but somewhat generic--we found ourselves nodding to the beat during his set, but left with no desire to hear the songs again. Still, Graffix was an engaging, quick-witted performer; every time he ran short of breath or had to stop to take a drink of water, the heavyset MC would crack a joke at his own expense ("I haven't loss any weight since the last time I pointed out I'm fat"). And when an audience member helpfully made a suggestion about the volume of a microphone, Graffix nicknamed the stranger "Soundcheck" and made like the guy was part of his entourage every time he did shout-outs for the rest of the night.

B-Amazing was a more earnest performer who, ultimately, did not live up to his name, but still played a fairly likeable set, culminating in a mellow rap-rock tune that managed to be pretty good. Afterward, the night quickly started to wind down with many of the performers and audience members clearing out to the parking lot. DJ Illah left the DJ riser at one point, and the music kept playing, one song blending into the next with complete segues and beat matching, which totally shattered the illusion that he was actually doing anything up there the whole night.

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