Beantown Uprising: Cousin Stizz, Michael Christmas, and many more take over

Cousin Stizz. Photo by Stefan Kohli.

Redbull Presents: Beantown Uprising
w/ Cousin Stizz, Michael Christmas, and more

September 27, 2019 at Artists for Humanity EpiCenter


In a well-kept basement in Seaport, one of Boston’s most important hip-hop moments was underway. Judging by the overpriced drinks and hors d’oeuvres, the uninformed concert-goer might think they’re in the wrong place. However, the thumping DJ and energetic crowd would immediately reassure anyone that they were in the right place.

Red Bull’s Beantown Rising last Friday showcased some of the hottest and most established hip-hop artists to come from this wonderful city. To start the night, DJ sets primed the audience for the upcoming artists. The speaker configuration was not ideal for the music, as only two big sets were facing the crowd with vocals being a bit too low. However, the mixing on-stage was spot on as they prepared the crowd and maintained a decent level of excitement.

First to come on stage was the Brockton-based collective Van Buren. Previously known as the Van Buren Boys, the group boasts a strong roster with bass-heavy production and intense lyrics. Members Meech, Luke Bar$, Lord Felix, Saint Lyor and Jiles began catching attention at the beginning of the summer and gained traction from their single “Live @ the Oberon,” which was the group’s first release. On stage, however, the group increased their energy ten-fold. Their presence was immediately felt as they jumped on stage and around the venue. When they weren’t on the mic or providing ad-libs, they were interacting with the crowd, providing an atmosphere that made the upscale basement venue feel like an Allston house show.

After a lengthy DJ set break, Michael Christmas was next in line. Christmas has been a major part of Boston hip-hop since his debut mixtape Is This Art? in 2015, and has not slowed down in his contributions to the scene. Christmas performed content from his upcoming mixtape Baggy Eyes 2 which releases October 4th. Known for his hilarious lyrics and approachable personality, Christmas shows exactly that on the mic. Christmas revved the crowd with hits like “Girlfriend,” persuading them to wave their hands and at one point get on the ground for a jump. The Boston-born rapper was excited to return to his stomping grounds, and his performance reflected just that.

Last, and certainly not least, was Cousin Stizz, Boston’s hip-hop pioneer. Stizz released Trying to Find My Next Thrill in August and has steadily been garnering more attention outside of Massachusetts. At Beantown Rising, however, he was home, and the audience let him know. The whole night felt like a lead up to Stizz’s performance. The diverse audience, coming from all parts of the city, all age groups and ethnicities, exemplified the appeal of Stizz’s music. Stizz has been known to play to the crowd and speak about his personal experiences, and this set was no different. Stizz offered a precise lyrical performance that captivated the audience and inspired a sense of awe. It’s no surprise that Stizz has been able to obtain features from the likes of Freddie Gibbs and City Girls.The rapper undeniably has talent, and his live performance suggests that this will not be the highest heights the Dorchester artist will achieve. Cousin Stizz will also be performing at the House of Blues on November 27.

Boston has been yearning for a showcase for its outstanding hip-hop performers and Beantown Rising delivered just that. From the city’s established names to the truly up-and-coming, Beantown Rising brought the most important names in Boston to put on a show everyone will remember. Van Buren and Michael Christmas showed the community that they are ready for the big step up, while Cousin Stizz showed he still deserves the limelight.

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