Nothing little at all
Little did anyone know that Little Egypt is famous in Poland. But then again, what underground rap group isn't? They love underground hip hop in Poland. According to Little Egypt, they know all the lyrics to every song, and better than that, they hate Puff Daddy.
"We did some freestyles on an internet radio station here in the states," explained Khordz 255, one of the group's members. "A dj in Poland heard the broadcast and loved it so they flew us over there for a couple weeks." Not only did they fly them across the Atlantic, they greeted them at the station with nothing less than an entourage.
"I finally know what the Beatles felt like," said Taaj. "We did a lot of performing on Viva Polska, like their version of BET. They actually took video tapes of our shows and turned it into an advertisement for the show. We were sitting watching TV, you know not paying attention, and then we see Braverstar up there on the screen in a rave." Bravestar is one of the group's members, all of whom are talented lyricists from New York City.
It's been over ten years since the members of Little Egypt came together in New York. They only went international very recently. A trip to South America took them to Brazil several years ago where the group had an opportunity to perform at the afterschool program "Casa de Hip Hop." With classes on graffiti and hip hop culture, "Casa de Hip Hop" is like a much cooler version of the "Boys and Girls Club" here in the states.
"Performing there really taught us that world wide hip hop is not only a culture but a way of life." Little Egypt hopes to return to Brazil again to do some charity concerts. They even plan to show up with a can of food.
Performing for charity is part of the groups vibe. They enjoy performing for all different types of people in all different types of places. Never ones to hold themselves above their fans, the members of Little Egypt always make time to meet the people who come to the show.
Many students who attended last Saturday's concert had just that opportunity. Members of the club Poetics got some help with their rhymes while audience members got to shake a few hands and make some new friends.
"We're all regular people," said Visual Poetics, the group's self-described hippie. "That's just what we do. There's no real star power. We all tend to be pretty much in awe of each other. A lot of our inspiration comes from within the group. We definitely vibe off of each other."
With a diverse array of different personalities, the members of the group have a lot to share with each other. "It's about the different personalities in the group," said Visual Poetics. "Like Bravestar and Taaj are a little crazier. I'm probably the hippie. I connect with a more 'out there' vibe, and Khordz is the most musical. He comes from the old school."
The members of Little Egypt came together 1989 when they began performing in various venues around New York. Though they had known each other for years (some of them are related) they waited until they finished college to start their own record company. Since then they've branched out to a number of different performance spaces with a diverse body of audience members.
"We can do a kids show one night and then the next night we can do a smoked out club in Brooklyn. We can reach out and touch everybody there. I don't know too many other hip hop groups that can do that," said Visual.
The group's biggest North Eastern concert was Grassroots, a four day show that takes place in upstate New York. Not only did Little Egypt bring the house down, they brought hip hop to Grassroots for the first time in the show's history.
"It was the first time they'd had a hip hop show at Grass Roots and the response was overwhelming," said Taaj. "We ended up doing four different shows and linking up with other bands. We're real spontaneous like that." From bluegrass to reggae, the other bands they met at Grassroots gave them a diverse array of musical inspiration.
Little Egypt inspired the audience at Grassroots as well. "People really took to us because we were the harder edge that the festival never really had. At the same time we bonded with both younger and older crowds," said Visual. "We're hip hop so people bring us and think let them appeal to the real young but at that show there's the young, the real young, the old, the older, the oldest! It was a wild response. There's people there your parent's age. It was younger kids and their parents. When you're connecting with two different generations of a family, that's kind of special."
Little Egypt doesn't find it difficult to get their name out either. With the help of some creative brainstorming, they've come up with plenty of ways to advertise their group.
"These cats are like the most creative cats I know," said Visual. Dane Matthews, the group's manager, helps to keep them in touch with lots of people, one of which is Bowdoin's own Burgie Howard. "Dane handles a lot of stuff like that. We do a lot of headbutting, but it's brought us in touch with some great people. We love Burgie," said the group. Dane also put the group in touch with their dj, DJ Big Wiz from the Almighty Steelworkers crew. He joined the group just before they left for Poland after they were instructed to bring a dj. In addition to getting to know the group, Big Wiz was happy to take a trip to Poland, even if the food was a little bit hard to take.
Fortunately, Little Egypt ate much better at Big Top. After a night of performing at Bowdoin and checking out the local scene, Little Egypt was happy to enjoy some sandwiches at Brunswick's best deli. Unlike the rappers, the sandwiches may not be straight from New York, but they still satisfied some hungry performers. Then again, Little Egypt seems to be at home wherever they are, be it New York, Brunswick, Brazil, or Poland.
Connecting with all different kinds of people is something that defines Little Egypt. They hope to return to Maine some time this year, doing a tour of Bates, Colby, and Bowdoin. No matter where they go, they're confident the crowds will be pleased. After all, they've had a good response from the young and the old. "In Ithaca a guy came up to us and was like, 'can I buy your CD for my daughter?' There's not too many fathers buying hip hop CDs for their daughters."
In case your father didn't buy you the CD, Little Egypt's music is available at Bull Moose Records in Brunswick, Portland, and Bangor. The title of the CD is Straight Out the Sands and includes many songs that the group performed here at Bowdoin so be sure to check it out before they sell out...of the CD that is. Little Egypt is one rap group that I'm pretty sure will never sell out. From a down-to-earth attitude and a desire to reach a diverse audience, these talented musicians are on a road to success that will most likely take them bigger places than our gym.