DJ & Dance

Smoke Screen/Freeze-Tag/Ghost Noises/Urbindex/DJ Eso

When: Sun., Dec. 30, 9 p.m. 2012

It’s a tough life for a struggling Cleveland rapper, what with Bone Thugs N Harmony never wanting to call it quits and Machine Gun Kelly grabbing all the headlines. It’s easy to become discouraged. So you have to give credit to underground sensations Smoke Screen. MC Mooke and MC/Producer Chemist have been around for five years, and have performed with the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Kid Cudi, Mos Def and Talib Kweli. But what’s more important than the rappers with whom they’ve performed is the talent they possess. Their latest EP Ice Cold Water was nominated this year for “Album of the Year” in the Ohio Hip Hop Awards and for damn good reason. One defining characteristic of good hip-hop is when it makes you want to rap along with it, and this infectious album offers a balance between catchy, clever and intricate lyrics. Smoke Screen executes this successfully, with finesse and flow as it offers flavorful, interesting rhymes. Paired along with old-school-influenced instrumentals, the songs suggest that flashy production isn’t what makes a great song; it’s all about the lyrics. (Sam Mendez)

Price: $5

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