Saturday, February 19, 2011

Emcees of the Month: Pac Div

For me, live performance is the most impactful aspect of emceeing. Here's a clip of Pac Div's show at The Voodoo Lounge in San Jose earlier this month.

My training and experience is in professional acting with a concentration on voice teaching/coaching (speaking, not singing). As a voice teacher, my hope is to guide my students to an honest and natural experience of voicing the physical and emotional impulses that are inspired by their on-stage circumstances. There are many traditions of vocal training that attempt to accomplish this for their practitioners; I happen to practice in the Warren/Linklater tradition (try this). From these traditions have arisen numerous theories, ideas, and insights as to how best free a performers' voice.

However, most of the emcees I find impressive and engaging have had very little formal performance training, if any at all. So as I watch these emcees perform, I'm continually astounded by their ability to make real and truthful connections to the impulses that live inside of them. And sure, there are some technical items here and there that could benefit from training. (I'm looking at you, Mr. Greene! Hoarseness after a show is not healty! Holla at me!)
But all things being equal, the most skillful emcees are making brilliant vocal connections.

I'm writing a thesis right now that hopes to examine this in further detail. My hope is that it can evolve into a significant publication. It's gonna take some time, but I'll get there!

For me, this is a very clean, simple, and traditional example of emcee stagecraft; nothing fancy or clever, just one and one equaling two. I'm impressed by the sense of grounding each of them have when their turn to rhyme comes around. There are emcees who have a habit of flopping around the stage as they rhyme, failing to see anyone in the room, and making an honest connection with an audience incredibly difficult. These cats have that covered. They see their audience and are quite successful at communicating to them during their verses.

I will say, however, that I would like to see them explore their attention to the audience when they aren't rhyming. It's a tricky thing to do. I have experienced many moments on stage in which I'm not speaking for long periods of time. The challenge is how to stay engaged with the room while allowing other performers their space to play the scene. There are many avenues they can take, and I'm sure they are developing with each performance. (Get at me, fellas, if you get stuck! I'd be happy to help!)

But yea, I dig these cats. I hope they do a show in Philly soon, 'cause I'm in there.


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