Humboldt County Freestyle Kings: Need We Say More?
Jessie, a.k.a Cat Lanky, MC for the Humboldt County Freestyle Kings called me an hour late for the interview. He may have forgotten to spring ahead, but his rhymes are right on time.
Hip-hop is not usually associated with the rural environs of Humboldt County, but the sounds of the Freestyle Kings spin like the curling twist of rising smoke – intoxicating, dank and full of crystal-like groove.
Playing bass, drums, guitar and keyboard, the Freestyle Kings have the capability to step outside the realm of traditional hip-hop and experiment. One song, “Pimpin,” is reminiscent of ’70s era Herbie Hancock. But this does not mean they don’t play straight up hip-hop with a DJ and scratching.
Lanky said his philosophy is about “keeping your mind open as far as lifestyles and different kinds of music.”
Half the show is freestyle which leaves some major room for improvisation between musicians and the MCs. The Freestyle Kings are eight members strong, but also perform as a quartet with DJ Just One spinning the band’s sounds and MCs Cat Lanky, Jewish Cowboy and Darth Vader rhyming.
Considering the band is from Humboldt County it is of no surprise to hear a clip from the Cheech and Chong movie “Up in Smoke” as an introduction to a song about the police called “Crooked Ashes.”
Blending themes that appeal to herb heads and snowboarders alike the Freestyle Kings play most of their shows between Humboldt and Reno and have thrived within the snowboard scene, playing at contests in ski towns as far away as Breckenridge, Colo.
Lanky is the only member who doesn’t live in Humboldt County. A sponsored snowboarder, Lanky, a Boston native, lives on Tahoe’s North Shore. But Humboldt County, a collective of different towns and individual sections, holds a special appeal to the Freestyle Kings.
“Everyone claims loyalty to one spot,” he said. “South County is were most of our family is at, where most of our close knit people are at.”
Despite their controversial lyrics, the Freestyle Kings have managed to get radio play on at least one Humboldt County top 40 station – with radio edits.
Break Out Box:
What: Hornblower Full Moon Cruise at Ski Run Marina
Time: Boarding 9 p.m. / Cruise 10 p.m.
Who: Humboldt County Freestyle Kings with members the Jewish Cowboy, Garth Vader, Cat Lanky and DJ Just One
Guests: Rick V, Prophet, Unity, DJ Smokey, Swing, Moody EVA, Cameron
Tickets: $20 call 541-3364
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