Pray for rain at Alexander Devereaux’s with GSO’s hardest hitter
It’s Friday night on High Point Road and the cruising teenagers rev their engines at the stoplights and push their car stereos to the max. It’s the perfect time’— not too early and not too late when the night’s gearing up yet anything’… anything’… is still possible.
The dinner dancing crowd has absconded form the swanky confines of Alexander Devereaux’s, and rumor has it that former emissary from Cash Money Records and erstwhile Hot Boy Juvenile has commandeered the upstairs lounge. There’s a big tour bus with tinted windows in the fenced-in parking lot and a queue of hip-hop fans consisting mainly of honeys and shorties grows longer by the minute.
At first glance Alexander Devereaux’s seems an unlikely epicenter for the Greensboro hip-hop scene ‘— a fine-dining restaurant with a kitchen of some renown and a dance floor where diners move to the sounds of mild dinner music ‘— but if hip hop is about glamour, bling and capitalistic excess, then Devereaux’s is the perfect spot in town to showcase new local talent, host after-parties for hip-hop events at the Greensboro Coliseum across the street and act as a VIP playground for visiting gangsta luminaries like Juvenile and Flava Flav, who hosted an event here a few weeks ago.
Juvenile splits through a side door before the line out front empties into the building, but the crowd loses no enthusiasm. Tonight’s main event is a CD release party for Greensboro rapper, songstress and poet Alottyrain, who sits downstairs in a corner booth, clad all in black, awaiting her moment.
Did you ever think that you would be the sh*t?
Did you ever think that you would have a hit?
Did you ever think your record be in stores?
Did you ever think that you would go on tour?
Did you ever think that you would get to shine?
‘Carolina Song’ playin’ all the time?
Did you ever think that things would ever change?
Did you ever think that you would be the same?
The verse is from ‘“Haters and Homies,’” the first cut from Alottyrain’s disc, A Lot of Rain. Her stage moniker she gets from an anagram of her given name, Tina Taylor, but rain is an apt image to describe the lyrical stylings of the GTCC nursing student whose voice is soothing and feminine yet capable of cracking hard like thunder when the time is right.
‘“It’s like this with me,’” she says. ‘“I have so many different emotions inside’… with my words I just express them.’”
The tune ‘“Haters and Homies,’” she says, is about her ascension in the world of hip hop and the response of the people around her. She’s relatively new to the scene, but her ‘“Carolina Song’” has been getting airplay on some local stations and as her notoriety grows she’s noticed some changes in the people around her.
‘“’Did you ever think that you would get to shine?”” she quotes. ‘“Some people said it out loud, some didn’t.’”
‘“We ran into her in the recording studio,’” says the album’s producer, Jason Young, who moved from Brooklyn, NY to Asheboro to get a handle on the North Carolina sound and is now milling around the first floor of Devereaux’s in a sharp checked jacket.
‘“It’s got so much of a different flavor,’” he says. ‘“I find it’s the accent.’”
For Alottyrain’s debut Young borrowed from the stylistic dings and beeps of Missy Elliot’s ‘“Get Your Freak On’” and also channeled some more traditional funk.
‘“I wanted to take it to that Earth, Wind and Fire thing,’” he says. ‘“I was trying to emulate a percussion section’… I knew the sound I wanted; I just had to figure out how to get it. I moved the fade all to the bottom and I said, ‘I got it.””
The line out front moves into the building in drips and dribbles and now Alottyrain sits at a booth with some of her girlfriends, possibly allaying the anxiety of her performance tonight.
‘“That’s her support group,’” says Chris Smith, her manager and CEO of Endapendat Records. ‘“She’s not as tough as she sounds.’”
Upstairs in these austere surroundings ‘— hunter’s green and mahogany tones ‘— the dance floor is starting to throb to the beats of a house DJ. Handfuls of hip-hop kids, then tens, then dozens and possibly hundreds squeeze together on the floor, swaying, bouncing and gyrating in lewd pantomime.
A young woman wears a short green dress with the skirt cut at an angle that makes it nearly impossible to conceal her left butt cheek. She notices a reporter jotting in a notebook and steps over to introduce herself.
‘“My name’s Jahnique,’” she says, ‘“but everybody calls me Peaches.’”
Damn right it’s a party. And the room reaches a crescendo just after midnight, when Alottyrain, fairly new to the live stage, takes a deep breath and does her thing.
To comment on this story, e-mail Brian Clarey at firstname.lastname@example.org.