‘Gimmie Roses Now’ Review: We need to highlight local talent in Pittsburgh more often
“To me, this is going to be the most culturally relevant event the city has ever seen.”
Blaire C., founder of Document My Day production company, said that with conviction a few weeks before her event “Gimmie Roses Now” came to fruition.
Spoiler alert: she was right.
Gimmie Roses Now, a hip-hop cypher and spoken word showcase that highlighted local talent from Pittsburgh, was not only relevant to what our generation deems to be “the culture,” but it also advanced it.
From the time you walked in the doors of Senseless, the venue for Gimmie Roses Now which is in actuality a sneaker store that sells urban apparel and hip-hop paraphernalia, the intimate vibe made you realize that this event was not just meant for you to spectate.
You had to feel it.
“The 90s hip-hop vibe that Senseless has really set the mood from jump, (and the rap snacks),” said Shantale Davis, a local photographer (@shanshoots2) and poet who performed at the event.
“I liked the intimate setting because on a stage you can’t always hear the crowd reaction until a big punchline, but in the cypher you can hear it all the way through.”
Yes, like she said, there were old-school rap snacks as refreshments, the perfect addition to an environment that was already reminiscent of the 90s when rappers would freestyle on street corners.
The red lighting accentuated the theme and the name of the show, a play on words for the phrase “give a man his flowers while he’s still here.” When I interviewed Blaire as a guest on the LexxxTalkAboutIt podcast a few weeks back (episode 11), she described the inspiration behind the title.
“I really wanted to have this cypher because I feel like we wait, as people, for bad things to happen to celebrate each other. It’s a celebration of life once somebody’s gone.”
I immediately blurted out the phrase that correlates with exactly what Blaire described, and to that she said “The title of the event is Gimmie Roses Now.”
“I want people who’ve been grinding, really trying to change the trajectory of their life and really rap out of this stuff… I want them to understand, ‘You’re valued. We fuck with you.’”
That message was made loud and clear.
“It was just incredibly refreshing to get together in the city and vibe out. No huge bells and whistles or production. Black people just being themselves and living the culture,” Shantale said.
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Dozens of us gathered around and witnessed rounds of freestyles, poetry, and continuous rhymes in battle style, all sparked by a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” better known as the black national anthem by Pittsburgh’s own Cameron Chambers.
The cypher was hosted by Fu Underwood (@imjustfu), who himself has put on poetry events in Pittsburgh.
In an interview after the event, Blaire said she was happy to see the reaction from all who came.
“Everyone was enjoying themselves. I didn’t see one person leave looking displeased. Not one. I loved the vibe. It was a positive place to be,” she said.
Eric Cruse, a comedic rapper building a name for himself through social media (@everybodyknows_e) and stand up comedy, described the cypher as “raw creativity at it’s best.”
“Top 10 events I ever took part of,” he said of the showcase. “The feeling of hearing somebody go before you and knowing that you gotta top that , you know, that pure competition is an unmatched feeling, especially when you’re a random wild card they ain’t know about.”
As an audience member and not a participant, I left there saying “Pittsburgh needs more spaces like these for creatives.”
Although the numbers may be fewer than those of a bigger market, Gimmie Roses Now showed that the passion for self expression is just as vibrant in this city.
“I have been fortunate enough in my life to have been exposed to all sorts of things, all sorts of people and and all sorts of places. I know that Pittsburgh and a lot of the people in Pittsburgh haven’t had those same opportunities,” Blaire said.
“I know because I put on this event in Pittsburgh and exposed people to something new, that someone’s gears started turning. Maybe now they have an idea for something else because they were exposed to Gimmie Roses Now.”
That’s exactly what I hope happens. I too was exposed to creative spaces outside of Pittsburgh during my time away from the city. So when Blaire said “culturally relevant,” it made me think what exactly the culture is here and who contributes to it.
When most people think of Pittsburgh artists, you think of names like Hardo or the late Jimmy Wopo (whose younger brother, Baby Jway age 13, performed at Gimmie Roses Now) and a certain trap sound is connected to the city.
Gimmie Roses Now showed that the talent here is more diverse than meets the eye.
“Getting the event together was a lot of work. I was in a city were things like this just don’t happen. No one had ever saw an event like what I was trying to put on. I spent a lot of time just getting people to trust me enough to participate,” Blaire said.
To that point- I’m not surprised.
I’m not mad at the party promoters who bring Young Dolph, Shy Glizzy, Lil Baby, Lil Boosie or other mainstream rappers to Pittsburgh for shows. It takes an artist with a particular sound to bring a major crowd out in this city.
But Blaire C. showed us we need not forget about the talent we have right here. Especially those with a different sound like Jvggy Hendrix, MyFavoriteColor, or BangaCyss who all performed at the event.
Even when it takes a little bit of work to do so. The promo for the event alone, mini video clips previewing each artist posted to social media with flyers and information about the performers- all created by Blaire with some help from her team, showed it pays to be thorough.
One recurring theme here in Pittsburgh is that there is somewhat of a lack of support for hometown creatives and entrepreneurs.
I think I can agree with that, and this event showed how much the artists here are hungry for it.
We need to give out more roses.
***My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the company I am employed by.
Catch a recap of LexxxTalkAboutIt Ep. 11 ft. Blaire C.- Being honest with yourself here.
Special thanks to Blaire C. @bleeeezo