Although local rapper X-Cal's debut disc, tentatively titled Already on Clearance, isn't due to drop until mid-January, it's one that he hopes will be well anticipated amongst local hip-hop fans. Built in the mold (and shadow) of local cross-over rap artists PDA and Kawnar, X-Cal's music tends to hip hop across genre boundaries, touching on rock, R&B, hip-hop and all things in between.
X-Cal's got a self-deprecating sense of humor, which comes across in the lyrics, but with it goes a sarcastic smirk. Whether addressing his "Exes," admitting that "I'm worthless, but hey -- this is me... ," or looking at the life of a "Starving Artist," he's both candid and darkly witty.
"'Starving Artist' is about everything most local artists won't agree to admit to -- selling out," he said. "Me? I just say upfront that I'll take the first deal that comes along. And deep down, I think everybody will. Everybody's got integrity until they see the dollar signs flash in their eyes."
Although X-Cal's debut disc is still in the works, he's not new to the Tulsa music scene. Starting in the hip-hop scene as PDA's hype man back in 2005, his presence was diminished when Cramberg joined the fold as drummer and ended up taking the hype man role with Kawnar.
Last year, X-Cal packed up and headed for the west coast, landing in Orange County to try his hand at the hip-hop game outside of Oklahoma. "It was the first time I had to stand on my own two feet," he recently admitted. "It was a good learning experience and I loved it, but after six months I was missing Tulsa. Out there, though, it's real hip-hop: all the stereotypical stuff minus the snapping and chain hanging..."
Although more people are quickly becoming acquainted with X-Cal the rapper, he's also got another identity hidden in his background that has just recently reappeared. Meet X-Cal, the pro wrestler.
"I stated wrestling back in 2002 and was even on Channel 8 news for a thing they did about backyard wrestling and I was in the Tulsa World," X-Cal said.
Working the semi-professional and regional wrestling circuit, he toured in nine states over a four year span before hanging up the tights. "Basically, I let a lot of stuff get to me and I got jaded by it, so in 2006 I let it all go completely," he said.
"Music really humbled me," he admitted. "In wrestling, I was the shit-or so I'm told. When I went to music, I was the shittiest of the bunch."
Somehow, though, X-Cal was drawn back into the padded ring to give the show another go.
Perhaps it's all part of the fresh start that comes with returning to Tulsa.
I chatted with his buddy, fellow wrestler "Cast Iron" Cothern about the local and regional wrestling scene. Both agreed that wrestling is much like music in that it's a performance-albeit a bit more physical. Still, much of it is about taking on a persona and taking it to the extreme.
Somehow, though, the persona becomes larger than life and the fans buy into it. Just recently, Cothern was indefinitely banned from wrestling in Tulsa because, as he put it, "It seems they look down on fighting with paying fans."
Fighting with the fans? Yes, you heard that right. Apparently, Cothern jokingly started the "Anti-Juggalo League," directed at a certain type of rap fan (mostly of Insane Clowne Posse) and people took it too seriously.
"It all started as a gimmick," he said laughing. "Just me and X-Cal and another guy, three people with homemade signs, protesting outside a show. It didn't even last five minutes, I don't think, but it ended up on You Tube and took on a life of its own. Then I started getting death threats."
The fight ensued after a performance last month when a fan confronted him and started a fight after a show.
"When you can stir people up and make them react like that, you know you're doing it right," said Cothern.
"I owe everything to wrestling as far as my stage presence and stuff goes," X-Cal said. "Even when I was five, I was dancing like Michael Jackson and my Mom would call me out to dance for her friends."
X-Cal's always had the performance bug in him. And now, both careers seem to be taking off at the same time.
X-Cal the rapper performs at the Blank Slate this Saturday night, September 27. The bill also includes Optimistic to a Fault, Standing Ape Count, Society Society and Downcast. The following Friday, October 3, X-Cal takes to an even larger stage as part of the NWA Wrestling event at the SpiritBank Event Center in Bixby.
Cover for the Blank Slate show this weekend is only $5 and tickets are priced at $15, $20 and $30 for the NWA wrestling event on October 3.
It's a huge week in Tulsa, especially when looking at the big-name shows coming to town. I'll touch on a few...
Thursday night, September 25, is probably the biggest night of the month. Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift play the BOK Center with tickets in the $49.50 and $69.50 range.
Looking downtown, Swell Season, featuring Glen Hansard and Markesa Irglova, recreates the music from the surprise hit movie Once at The Brady Theater with $38 and $48 tickets.
Friday, September 26, features Lindsey Buckingham at the Brady for the classic rock set and tickets in the $50 and $60 stratosphere. Meanwhile, Mama Sweet and Sage Flower give Bob's a local flavor on Friday night at 9pm with a $7 cover and Wayne "the Train" Hancock brings his inimitable honky-tonk style to Exit 6C for $15.
Saturday night sees the door of Bob's lit up again, this time with Ingram Hill and Hana Pestle and a $17 ticket. Just down the sidewalk, Soundpony hosts Death Is Not A Joyride and GHOSTS--and, as always, no cover.
Sunday, September 28 proves to be a busy night as well. First off, the Spirit Bank Event center officially being christened by ZZ Top ($45/$35). Second up, if you're a metal fan, you need to head over to the Marquee to check out Emarosa with Burden of the Day, The Years Go By and In Fear and Faith.
Penultimately, the only show bigger than Conor and Jenny this month is Beck at Cain's with openers MGMT. This one's been sold out for weeks, though, so good luck on e-bay or haggling with scalpers.
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