{Cure for the Common Hip-Hop} Client: 944 Magazine

If you’ve heard the buzz about Antedote, you know that you must see this band live — feel their chilled-out hip-hop vibe, check out the way each piece of the group fits together, get comfortable with them like you’ve been invited into their recording studio.

“You go on our website and hear it and think, ‘These guys are kinda dope.’ But you come to a show and you see me and Brandon meshing together and Kenyata singing and Travis on bass and at the same time he’s playing the keyboard and percussion’s going off on a solo … You feel the energy,” enthuses Antedote MC Jamil Hyatt, also known as Many Pieces. The live performance is what this band is all about — “bringing the audience in,” says Brandon Lawson, aka Mesi Goodness.

This collaboration between the two MCs has been a long time coming (they have known each since they were 16), although Antedote originally formed without Hyatt. “Me and Brandon used to sit in the back of Big Fish Pub, rhyming back and forth,” says Hyatt. “I was like, ‘Yeah cool, Brandon’s doing his thing.’ And then I came into Blunt Club and [I heard the track ‘Strike One’] and I was like, ‘What is this? That is banging! I wish I was on this track!’”

Hyatt checked out more shows, coming onstage to perform on a song here and there, before he and Lawson finally joined forces. The lone female member, Kenyata Baraka, aka Queen Bee, came on later, bringing another new dimension — “smoothing out our rough edges,” says Lawson. “She has her own sex appeal without even trying — it’s effortless. … You can’t not pay attention to her when she starts,” adds Hyatt.

Antedote is now complete, with Travis Whitmer on bass, keys and vocals; his brother Kellin on guitar and keyboard; Eric Brumen on percussion; and Dan Petrosino on drums. “We all found a sense of home with the band,” explains Lawson.

Their eclectic style, inspiring live shows and organic sound — a combination of “braggadocious poetry” and powerful issues laid over smooth beats — have won over fans. As a result, they’ve opened for hip-hop icons Digable Planets and Common (“Common’s manager was like, ‘Yeah man, you guys got something going.’ I was like, ‘Common’s manager said that?’” says Hyatt), as well as bands some wouldn’t expect, like Chris Berry and The Pangea, a Los Angeles jam band that features Michael Pang from String Cheese Incident. “[The crowd] told us, ‘You guys just grabbed us, we’re not even hip-hop fans,” says Lawson. “We steal fans everywhere,” laughs Hyatt.

And, finally, Antedote fans will have something to vibe to following a show, because the band’s first video, for the single “Universal,” will be available online this month. The 12-inch vinyl of the single will follow, with instrumental and a cappella remixes. Then, the long-awaited full-length album is slated to drop in February 2007.

“[With the video], I’m most excited that we now have a finished product where people can see us,” says Hyatt. “And everyone’s been asking, for about a year, ‘When’s the album coming out?’ I’ll just be excited to say, ‘Here it is, boom.’ Everyone that comes to a show wants to buy an album.”

Until the record is complete, listen to tracks at http://www.myspace.com/antedote; buy past EPs at http://www.themerchgirl.com, ZIA Records or Wet Paint Art Supply; or chill at an Antedote live performance at Blunt Club at Hollywood Alley (2610 W. Baseline Road in Mesa) on Thanksgiving night, one of the biggest party nights of the year.

And check out the “Universal” video at http://www.cabrassoundtrack.com or http://www.antedoteband.com (“It’s going to be chill and fun,” says Lawson). For Hyatt, the video shows off the factor that’s made the group such a crowd favorite: “We’re all so different, but we mesh so good.”

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