Ain't Easy Being "Lit" / by Alex Young

 Shawn K and JKJ

Shawn K and JKJ

Personal mood, while influenced by one's life experiences and interactions, is largely controlled by the self. Emotion is mental and particular styles in which to react to situations.

There is often somebody who always seems to be the highest of highs or the lowest of lows. They are always having fun, happy, and laughing, or frowning, complaining, and dejected. Either way, a person's mood is a mindset, a choice, and a lifestyle.

At a release party for Pittsburgh, Pa. rapper Palermo Stone's new Hendawg Millionaire mixtape, I watched the night's celebratory performers consciously go from casual supporters to bouncy, uplifting, and entertaining, also known as "lit."

The atmosphere in Boom Concepts, the creative incubation hub that hosted Stone's event, was vitalized by the flow of Hennessy, and a jamboree when acts were on stage.

An out-of-towner named Shawn K, an artist from Cleveland, Ohio, was brave enough to show his face in the Steel City wearing a Cleveland Indians jersey. Ignoring his loyalty, the crowd at Boom paid attention to Shawn K as his raspy voice moaned, "Heeeey, I'm a dead man movin'," atop the stage. When the crowd was not as active as he wanted, the rapper called his squad to the front to turn up with him, and they instantly jumped up and down together. Taylor Gang DJ, Motor Mane took notice and later invited Shawn K to ID Labs, the studio where Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller crafted many hit records.

 Deem Trill, DJ Spillz, Joel Kellem, PK Delay, Slicky Williams, Flack412

Deem Trill, DJ Spillz, Joel Kellem, PK Delay, Slicky Williams, Flack412

Shawn K's approach was infectious, and unmatched only until native Pittsburgh collective The Company Only performed. The group of six, led by Chill God and dad, officially Joel Kellem and PK Delay, put on a set that featured all of its members. Dressed in pastel colors, reflective public works stripes, and gold jewels plus gold grills, the aforementioned, Deem Trill, Fat Corey, Seas, and Slicky Williams, at one point, rapped the lyrics a cappella to Kellem's "Language" song when a DJ's computer malfunctioned. People rallied around them saying, "Fuck it up, fuck it up, fuck it up." I found myself most engaged when Williams performed "My Wrist" for the first time ever. His energy suggested everybody knew the words, and despite the opposite, people felt the authentic vibes.

 Seas

Seas

Before I left the party, Thomas Agnew, an owner of Boom Concepts and founder of Jenesis Magazine, a youth lifestyle publication, gifted me a T-shirt that dramatically reads, "Party or Die." 

To that end, how do you choose to live your life?