Video, words, and photos by Vanice Alexander

Last Saturday, AnimalXHouse transformed Skully’s Music-Diner into one of the best Ohio showcases to take place in a very long time. The 800 capacity venue is located in the heart of the city’s famous High St., which is home to some of the states best and most diverse restaurants, shops, bars, and more. It was a perfect location for the event. The showcase was free, giving residents no excuse not to come check out the next group of rap artists that have enough force packed in their craft to kick down some new doors.

It was truly a great experience and definitely worth the 2-hour drive down from Cleveland. With artists performing from Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and of course Columbus, supporters traveled from across the state for AnimalXHouse.

The night kicked off with a set from native DJ Chris Mars B and soon after Correy Parks was live. As soon as Correy Parks hit the stage it was clear that he does not write songs to be in the studio or played through your car speakers, he writes to be on the stage! His presence was strong, moving from the left side to the right side and from the back to the front of the medium sized stage. His fans were front and center throughout his entire high energy performance. He played everything from old classics to his new hits like “Arrival”, which is the best representation of his speedy flow. I was shocked that he made it through a live performance of those packed bars. If you think that his music videos are chilling, you’ll HAVE to see his live show when you get the chance.

Before the next artist hopped onto the well curated platform for the evening, founder and host Jordian Ross grabs the mic and takes some time to rightfully boast AnimalXHouse’s latest events, calling out “South by South West, Fest, New York… We’re all over the place doing this shit!” The grassroots music brand truly is, bringing out great artists over the years like Key!, Chance The Rapper, Post Malone, Kendrick Lamar, OG Maco, and many more.

What I really enjoy about AnimalXHouse is that they haven’t forgotten why they started all of this, to help local artists reach larger audiences. As the brand continues to build their credibility within the music industry, they make sure that they’re bringing some of Ohio’s top rappers along with them. This showcase in Columbus is only the beginning for them, “there are a lot of artists from here that we didn’t include so this isn’t the only one, we hope to do more like this” says Jordian Ross.

Jordian Ross preparing for AnimalXHouse
Jordian Ross preparing for AnimalXHouse

Next up was DXM THE GXD, slowing things down a notch with a few slow songs. His set was filled with passionate dance moves and lines about his love for women and the hustle of life. He also premiered an unreleased banger titled “Margiela” featuring Cincinnati rapper Midwest Millz. The beat hits hard and DXM’s unique way of merging singing and rapping together raised the energy of the early crowd.

DXM The GXD
DXM The GXD

Clevelander Slim Slater followed up with a killer set, including hit songs like “Bitch Took a Loss” and “Savage”. These tracks are always bumping through Cleveland streets now that he’s released his self-titled EP, but after his stellar performance I’m sure that they’ll be playing in Columbus a tad bit more too. One of his go-to producers 100 Band Xan rocked out with him during his entire set, keeping the audience’s attention on the stage. That’s something that we hope to see more of these local acts add to their live performances, it’s hard to hold a new crowd’s attention on your own so this makes a huge difference. During the middle of Slim Slater’s performance a couple of his friends surprised him by showing up from Cleveland. Slim’s songs are genuine and this act by his friends proved that his friends and life are just as genuine as he says.

By this point everyone has had a few extra drinks and each DJ set between performances got better and better. The main floor of the venue is lit with red and green lights while the entire outdoor patio is covered in red, matching the vibes of the drunk partygoers. I walked into a number of conversations about Jameson, stealing from Black culture, new music, and fashion debates, it was an interesting mix of people to say the least.

Patio bar
Patio bar

Tae Fresh kicked off the second half of the show with one of, if not, the best performances of the night. Tae Fresh mobbed on the stage with fellow friends and artists. The energy from them jumping up and down during every song traveled from the front of Skully’s to the back. And although it was exhilarating in the beginning, feeling as if I was up there mobbing along with everyone, after a few songs all of the people on the stage began to overshadow Tae’s performance. I could no longer see him, and having that “personal” connection during a live show is what makes them so special. Beyond the semi-enjoyable chaos happening on the stage, Tae Fresh did his thing. He had one of the most diverse group of fans out of the AnimalXHouse lineup. His music resonates with everyone from trap dudes bending corners and creatives preparing to get to work all the way to women getting dressed for a fun night with the girls or to stay in, stuff their face and read a book. All in all, Tae Fresh is an artist that’s worth paying to see live and he definitely sent the entire audience up song after song.

Then came the highlight of my night, the trap rappers. First up was Will Turner. The Dayton rapper’s laid-back performance matched the seemingly effortless bars that he performed. Everything about his demeanor is “cool”, from his backwards hat down to the sandals that he performed in while slowly rocking back and forth. Many of his songs were so strong that he didn’t have to move around the stage much, his music alone turnt the crowd up.

Will Turner of YOP
Will Turner of YOP

Steve Cannon hopped on the stage next, delivering an amazing performance from beginning to end. I don’t think that the rapper stood still for 5 seconds. I left AnimalXHouse a bigger fan of him than when I walked in, his passion forced me to pay attention to him. I can’t wait to see more from the young Xan Man!

Last but definitely not least, TIMG front-men LAMB$ and Midwest Millz hit the stage for the moment that majority of the attendees were waiting on. It was everything that I imagined it to be plus more. From playing hits like “Digi Scale” and “Fij Water” to sharing unreleased songs, these two killed their entire sets. It’s clear why TIMG is at the forefront of Ohio’s growing rap scene.

AnimaXHouse put on an amazing show, what a way to push the culture forward.

Here are a few of our favorite songs from the night.

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