Sometimes actions speak for themselves. In a room full of people talking, more can be said through gesture than words. With art to back them up, the signals at the eighth annual Gentleman Jack Art Beats + Lyrics last Friday were at once wild, thought-provoking, sexy and simply fun.
One of the best things about AB+L is seeing city slick Compound turned into an outpost for culture seekers and sanity savers. Events like AB+L make me feel good. And founders Jabari Graham and Dwayne “Dubelyoo” Wright do it well. Just thinking about how much preparation must have gone into the installation earns respect. And thinking about how I ran into them at Octane on the Westside back in June, planning. But also knowing that these two have perfected the process, enabling them to take the multimedia extravaganza from Atlanta to cities such as Charlotte, D.C., Houston, Miami and St. Louis over the last four years.
The text got you in, but the cards were intentional, passing from one hand to the next in anticipation of hearing Shock G say, “the one who put the satin on your panties,” and watching everyone nearby say the same.
That’s when we walked in. Or shortly before. Enough time to order and sip one of my first $8 Jack & Cokes. That’s part of the price you pay for sweetly skipping the line where we’d have received drink tickets. According to Jabari, there were probably 800 or so who ended up on queue, while another 4,000 total made it inside.
I am thankful for Art Beats + Lyrics because I am at once entertained and exposed. Comfortable and just the right amount of nervous. Crunk and completely uncertain of what I will hear or who I will meet next. In all ways, it is nice.
Especially with DJs such as House in the Park’s Ramon Rawsoul and WRFG’s Tabone taking charge. How “The Soul Chamber” host went from house music to trap boy anthems before I stopped dancing long enough to notice, I don’t know. Once I did, I couldn’t help but share my praise with a friend, pause for enjoyment, and keep dancing.
I sometimes wish more Atlanta gatherings had the AB+L vibe. Yes, I love days like this. But these kinds of nights are way cooler.