Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Defeating The Odds Ft. Toke x Thelonius

Defeating The Odds

(Ft. Toke x Thelonius)

Written By Anwar Curtis

๐Ÿ“ท  Connie Hobbs

On Friday, June 11, 2021, the Firehouse Restaurant in downtown Harrisburg was packed to capacity with some of Central Pennsylvania's illest emcees and hip-hop fans. Everyone in attendance was ready to witness a performance that many had not seen before. So, what led to this night full of excitement? A good ol' fashioned rap battle. 
Hidden Treasures' owner Kevin "Toke" Windemaker and everyone's favorite Harrisburg indie emcee Thelonius introduced the world to Capital Warfare -- a music series featuring rap battles and live performances. But what would entice both Thelonius and Toke to host a night full of aggressive wordplay and emotions?

๐Ÿ“ท  Brandyn Reynolds

Oftentimes, life is the epitome of a rap battle, and how one performs comes down to preparation, creativity, and crowd support. This philosophy is shared by both Toke and Thelonius. They are both individuals who quickly figured out how to defeat a rap (life) battle.

For Toke, he remembers being a child who loved to draw and loved watching wrestling. In fact, Toke would probably be a household name right now if it wasn't for his grandmother's lack of appreciation for his Ultimate Warrior imitations. It only took Toke one time to receive what felt like unfair wordplay --- a good pop from his grandmother for "playing like that" in her house for him to realize that dream was a total nightmare. Toke would later find a liking for LL Cool J's "I'm Bad" song and performed it quite often. One particular time Toke remembers performing it in front of his godparents. "My godfather said everything was great except the curse words," Toke expressed.

๐Ÿ“ท  Brandyn Reynolds

If it wasn't for Toke's godfather embracing him on that day, there would have been a really great chance Toke would have never invested his time in finding a real passion for music that almost landed him a record deal with Rawkus Records (but Rawkus Records fumbled its distribution deal). That experience was another punchline life would recite to him, but Toke prevailed and continued to pursue a life where hip-hop remained important. A few years later Toke would find a liking for artist management but due to a lack of timing, Toke almost found himself throwing that passion in the trash, but once again he bounced back and kept his love for music alive.

๐Ÿ“ท Brandyn Reynolds

So what about Th-Th-Th-Thelonius' life experiences grants him permission to appreciate the essence of battle rapping? Like many, Thelonius has considered walking away from music several times due to heavy bars life gives. One occasion where Thelonius almost walked away from his pursuit of happiness was the time somebody stole most of his music equipment. Ironically, this was a time in Thelonious' life where his music was really starting to take off. The release of his album, "Roses and Gangland," had been well-received by his peers, and he enjoyed every collaboration and live performance opportunity that came his way. But because of circumstance, Thelonius thought life was throwing a subliminal line at him, telling him that music wasn't the way. Thelonius would eventually respond to life with a few bars of his own and released "F.E.A.R.," his fifth body of work, which got him back in his bag.

๐Ÿ“ท  Brandyn Reynolds

There was another occasion when Thelonius considered walking away from the music game. This was inspired by the birth of his first child. "I didn't want to be that guy who excelled greatly in that world (music) but didn't take care of what's going on at home," Thelonius recalls. Well, little did he know that some two years later, his oldest daughter would see him perform for the first time. This almost ended up being his last show ever, but thank God it wasn't. That experience would open both her eyes and his. Her excitement seeing him perform encouraged him to get back in the mix of making music, which was something he really needed.

๐Ÿ“ท Brandyn Reynolds

Now fast forward to the year 2021. Both Toke and Thelonius have survived every bar life has projected. Toke has curated over 30 showcases, has introduced names such as Daisy Mayze, Yung Dev, Ki, T. Jetson, and Kierra Luv to so many indie fans, and has helped so many more "hidden treasures" become underground legends. Toke has also decided to invest his time back into artist management and development. Thelonius, on the other hand, has been working on several projects, has produced many fire beats, has been nominated for a Central Pennsylvania Music Hall of Fame's Song of the Year for "MELANIN-19" featuring Daisy Maize, and has lived up to his daddy duties. But there was that one idea that life encouraged both Toke and Thelonius to attack together that has re-energized their passions for music with Capital Warfare. Again, hip-hop, like wrestling and life, can be one of those things where preparation, creativity, and crowd support helps to combat aggressive moments. And since both Thelonius and Toke understand the concept of walkinging through life no matter what, they both decided to curate Capital Warfare as a collective.

๐Ÿ“ท Connie Hobbs

The first showcase of Capital Warfare brought a night full of tension, clever bars, and style thanks to opening acts CHRISTILEZ, LOEGANG BADGETT, BARRY BYRD, and DJ PETAI; however, it was the anticipation of the rap battle between P-$SPARKS and VESEY that created a standing room only environment. And that vibe was needed, just like Thelonius and Toke's ability to defeat life's burdens one rhyming life bar at a time.

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