Most of the time when rock meets rap, one of the elements is not up to par. Either the rhymes are strong but the chords are weak, or the guitar is hitting but the lyricist is a dull blade.
Enter Elenora Fagan. The Charlotte-based hip hop-rock band is the cure for both maladies: mindful, provocative lyrics backed by a tight trinity of guitar, bass and drum. Citing influences from The Roots to Red Hot Chili Peppers, their sound is a seamless blend of hip hop and hardcore, with hits of house and reggae.
Like DOC said, they’re funky enuff. But the real draw are the group’s two emcees, who pack their verses tight with humor, angst and social commentary. It’s a refreshing addition to Charlotte’s hip hop scene, crowded as it is with enthusiastic but underpar rappers yelling about money at every single open mic night.
GrownHeadz caught up with lead vocalist Currin Hightower after a Michael Jackson tribute concert at Amos South End. He promised Elenora Fagan, notorious for doing kick-ass shows but having no mixtapes or tees for fans to take home, is working hard to finish their first studio album.
“We’re recording, but it should be ready by early Fall,” he said.
Fagan brought their signature brand of electricity to the MJ tribute, with Thriller riffs and an amped-up rendition of Dirty Diana that got the sluggish crowd to their feet. The Golden Pyramids, Joe Crush, Elevator Jay and DJ Pyro rounded out the lineup.
The crowd, a mix of hardcore Michael Jackson lovers, hip hop heads and rock fans, never exactly gelled. Some performers, such as Mother Earth, a doe-eyed afro chic who rocked the mic and the drums with Joe Crush, got a lot of love; other more rock-oriented acts like The Golden Pyramids got a bit of the cold shoulder.
Pyramids’ frontman William Curry was undeterred, kicking off his group’s set with “F@$% you if you don’t wanna get up.” The band proceeded to play their asses off to a nearly deserted pit, then ceded the stage to headliners Elenora Fagan.
Elenora Fagan has said they chose the unusual name to reflect their diversity of styles. It’s Billie Holiday’s government name–and “If you don’t know who Billie Holiday is, I feel sorry for you,” Currin tells audiences.
The group is made up of five guys: Rappers Hightower and Jahmaar Stafford, drummer Matthew Wood, guitarist Jevon Washington and Juan Ossa on bass. The band, which has been together going on 2 years, is picking up steam, booking shows at The World Famous Milestone, Wine Up, Loose Change and WSBF 88.1’s Spring Festival in Clemson, SC.
As yet untitled, the debut release will be ready to drop this fall. In the meantime, support the Queen City’s favorite hip rock band with a donation to their kickstarter fund