Fifth Element Artist Profile: Medusa
Written By Kevin Beacham
See Medusa rocking live on the Fifth Element Stage!
Soundset Tickets are available at Fifth Element and Online via Ticketweb!
Here’s a “funny” thing about Hip Hop; for as long as I can remember the most likely way to make a nice living as an MC, unless you lucked up with a hit records, was from a steady tour schedule, but most MCs don’t put any real effort into giving a quality performance. Go figure. As a result, as much as I still love Hip Hop, I have all but given up going to see live Rap shows. The number of impressive Hip Hop shows I have seen in the last 10 years are regretfully minimal. I suppose the only redeeming value of that is the ones that have been exceptional shine through all the more.
One of my most memorable Rap live show moments of the decade took place nearly 10 years ago exactly. It was the Summer of 2003 and the fine details for the show are hazy, but it was a music festival in Chicago. I was actually out of town picking up my daughter from Virginia and was trying to drive back in time to make this festival and one of the primary reasons was to get a chance to see Medusa live.
I had never heard of her rocking a show in Chicago or even anywhere in the Midwest before. By then her name was already a thing of legend. There were the famed stories of her being a fierce battle MC, destroying the competition no matter their gender. I continually read or heard stories about her famed unreleased demos, solo or with her group, S.I.N. At that point, I had only actually heard her on a few things such as “Heavyweights Round 2”, Fat Jack “Cater To The DJ”, DJ Nobody’s “Soulmates”, her own “Do It The Way You Feel It” EP and a few other scattered things.
S.I.N-Pimp My Lyrics Demo
“Do IT The Way You Feel It” EP dropped in the late 90s on Good Vibe Records. I remember being excited to finally get my hands on some Medusa music after years of being teased by stories and rumors. The EP opens with “You Better Be!” and this song still sounds phenomenal! It sounds like the theme music you would cue as someone pulls back the curtain doors to walk thru a mysterious tent, directly in front of them is a gypsy with a crystal ball…and you can just tell she is the real deal, about to give you a glimpse into the future. The hook comes in strong, “You betta be a tight beat layer/Stop walking around like your some dope as conveyer/(You’re not that tight), When all the while, we’re just trying to make our paper/You’re just a player, a player, a player….” Then she sets it off on the verse, “Everybody professing to be a hustler/Boy get your head out of my daddy’s best seller/Your game is 2-ply, it shows in your skits/Only old school hustlers can tell you about thick/Get rich, get ten year corporate schemes/While chain snatch, slang that, car jack to develop a rap thang…”
In the second verse he speaks to the ladies, “And you, I ain’t mad you a ho/I’m mad you’re teaching my babies how to be a ho/When I ain’t home, taking that video to the dome/While you’re trying to clone bitches/I’m trying to raise Queens, there’s about to be some switches/Up in here, after we get these samples cleared/I’m exactly what you feared!”
Her voice is as commanding as it is sexy. Her delivery remains intriguing as she switches gears, flow speeds, vocal inflections, voice tones, and styles at will.
Medusa-You Betta Be!
On the Fat Jack produced “Fina Thangs” she doesn’t even pursue a typical Rap verse, instead she channels her energies into using her voice like the trained instrument that it is. The result is a soulful excursion laced with lyrics of substance.
“It’s A Gift” takes a more direct MC route and flirts with some sensual metaphorics sprinkled in amiss some challenging battle rhymes. The second verse proves to the best, as she starts off with her true Hip Hop history and then flips it to mythology mode to elaborate on her birth into the legend of Medusa, “I’ve been switched on lyrically since ‘83/Poetically…hmmmm, since I was three/In Hip Hop years this means I’ve been battling for centuries/Heads turn, I’ve blown wigs as far back as that fool on horseback/Night-screaming with the lantern, ‘The sisters are coming! The sisters are coming!’/And still heads turn even further backwards to the pryamaid gigs/Where the tightest pharaoh of the crew was ripping s**t/And with all due respect, one verse, I persist to kick the tightest/He was pissed, he just couldn’t see me/Left with S.I.N carved in the wall, representing the new deity/I was cursed, slowly the curse took it’s effect/MEDUSA!!! (sound effects)…correct!/Turning MCs to stone with every breath I take/Afros transformed to dreadlocks, historical mistaken as snakes…”
I was hoping that EP was marking the coming of a lot more music, but that was the case unfortunately. The next solo track I got my hands on was here “Fiend Or The Fix” track from Nobody’s “Soulmates” album. Nobody creates a vibe that is successful in matching Medusa’s raw intensity with a soft touch style. The hook puts the songs direction in full perspective, “The underground or the mainstream, generally the fiend and the fix is the same/Relentlessly clique-ish, porn flick-ish, ended up in mixes to where you have to spit game/The Underground or the mainstream, I bet your whole team know your Rap dreams tipped your booty clap fantasies/And you’ll do anything for the fiend of the lime light scene!”
Nobody featuring Medusa-Fiend Or The Fix”
That wasn’t a whole lot of music to go on, but it was enough to certify that I was a fan and patiently awaiting opportunities to hear more. That’s when I heard she was going to be playing at a Chicago music festival and I was determined to see her, even if I was going to be a thousand miles away on a road trip the day before. By the power of the Hip Hop gods I made it to the festival grounds right before Medusa hit the stage. I had my Daughter (Alyssa Nikole) and Nephew (Mikey) with me, who were ages 9 and 10 respectively at the time and they are a key part of me realizing the power of Medusa. I was standing there, kids directly in front of me, with my eyes focused on the stage, in awe of how she was commanding the crowd. I’m certain I was among a minority of people who actually knew who she was, but that was irrelevant. She had the crowd in the palm of her hands. She was dropping songs, acapellas, and freestyles with vigor and without flaw. Then all the sudden it hit me! What happened to the kids? There’s no way they could have just been standing there all that time, not asking me go get snacks, or asking any number of questions that they would have been generally tapping me for. I glanced down and there they still were, safe and sound, and their faces were filled with a type of wonderment I didn’t recall seeing them have before. Medusa had lived up to her name. The crowd was under her spell, frozen in their tracks and at her full attention. I was amazed that she so powerfully engaged a crowd of all ethnic backgrounds, musical preferences, and age groups, from at least 10 to 60. It was a bit mind-blowing.
After her set she said she had some CDs for sale and before I could reach for my wallet, the kids were asking me we could we buy one. I took the kids over to buy the CD and got a chance to briefly meet Medusa and tell her how I was a fan and how now she had made these two young-uns fans as well. For a few years at least the kids would ask about Medusa and if she had new music. In fact, one of my nephews didn’t get a chance to go and when he saw she was going to be at Soundset he made reference to that story and that he could finally see her because he has felt left out all those years…sorry Chris! :) That moment lead to me suggesting B-Girl Be book her a few years alter and then me eventually booking her for Scribble Jam. I don’t even recall how her name came out for Soundset. It happened a bit randomly, but I was excited to get another opportunity to cast her spell on perhaps somewhat unsuspecting crowd… Soundset 2012, watch the myth become reality…
From That CD “Feline Science” that I got that day: Medusa-Cold Piece Of Work