A venue packed tightly one Autumn evening in Cleveland’s artsy Waterloo district showcased a number of artists eager to step into the spotlight. Performer after performer stepped up to share their craft as waves of supporters rushed to get as close as possible to the stage. The energy of the space changed when a thick stillness filled the room; the lights were dimmed and a rowdy pack of GOONS rushed the stage. The steady crowd fell back and allowed the wolves to howl in anticipation of East Cleveland’s own Kipp Stone (You know it’s LITTY when the SQUAD is so deep they spill onto the stage).
As inaudible as the lyrics were, due to the DJ blasting the music so loudly, Stone’s message was felt, nonetheless. The infamy of East Cleveland (EC), with its streets haunted by decades of jaded community leaders and a startling crime rate, surfaces in Stone’s music and lyrics (even his demeanor reflects his reality). It’s almost as if Stone is most comfortable on a cold wintry EC night in the kitchen huddled over the stove cooking up beats and lyrics (in an old, two family Victorian style brick house).
His music is HOOD (in his own words, “H-double-o-d, so it been fuck 12”), gritty, conscious, and witty all at once. On his single “7 Dayz” from his debut LP Dirty Faced Angel, we find the rapper getting in touch with his duality going from lines such as “might drink a lil’ some, find a freak to sleep under” with ease, to “all my Correttas and Michelles please stand up!” Transitioning from one school of thought to another appears to come naturally to the introspective rhymer.
Posted up outside of the venue after his high energy performance, Stone could be found outside the hole in the wall factory turned club passing a blunt to gruffly bearded, fake readers wearing, flannel loving hipsters. He stood out from them all with his tall, dark silhouette, and very humble essence. Once the event ended and the attendees began leaving in small bunches, EC’s up and coming rap chief’s stardom came back to life as daps and pounds came from every direction (a reminder that he’s someone to keep an eye on).