Entertainment | Report by Arda Bulak
If you find yourself downtown on a Monday night, you should definitely swing by the Yeti and catch “The Situation.” For almost four years, Monday night at the Yeti consisted of a hip-hop poetry open-mic called Cipher 120. However, since last November, The Situation has taken its place, as the venue and local artists seek to keep the tradition going.
MC and trumpet player D.G. Rozell says that while the core group of poets went away with Cipher 120, The Situation now has “a lot more Hip-Hop and emphasizes music with a whole new band.” While the new focus has been live music, D.G. admits, “We’ve been trying to address that by welcoming out more poets to get back involved.”
When you arrive at “The Situation,” you meet the always friendly Laquita Cooper, who sells home grown vegetables, soaps, oils, and locally made jewelry. There’s a five dollar fire cover and a sign-up sheet for artists to perform. D.G. says that while they can’t always guarantee you a spot, they’ll “do [their] best to give everybody a chance to perform.”
The Situation is impactful to the broader community because it is part open-mic and part showcase. Featured headliners have included: Mr. Burns, Steph Simon, Faye Moffett, Metu Netr, David Puffin and O’Malley, Tea Rush, Dane Arnold, and Oil House. For artists in North Tulsa, The Situation is a “Foothold into the downtown… It’s ‘literally’ feet from the dividing line: 244, North to South Tulsa.” Regarding black artists, D.G. says, “A lot of people don’t feel comfortable coming down here, so this is like an invitation to be a part of the larger metropolitan area” and to “take advantage of the opportunities here.”
For younger artists who headline, “It’s a launching pad,” D.G. says. “Folks need to market themselves, bring merchandise… It becomes an exercise in what you should do if you take yourself seriously. It helps artists develop.” The house band, which “never practices, only improvises” comes in handy for the featured artists who don’t have one. For them, the band is “The Solution” and it includes some of Tulsa’s best jazz and hip-hop musicians.
“Tulsa’s a place where either you got a black band or a white band, so I don’t see too many bands that are integrated,” thus D.G. makes sure the band is “purposefully integrated.” “I don’t want people from North Tulsa to come down here and see a white band playing hip-hop. I don’t want people from Bixby to come down here and see a Black band playing Hip-hop. When we come together, ‘The Solution’ is for us to play hip-hop together… that’s what hip-hop is.”
Holding it down with The Solution is DJ AB, who is an associate program director and host of Old School Sunday Night Live on 105.3 FM Radio. “People who come through here get to meet DJ AB, and if they have their stuff put together, they get played on the radio or are interviewed…The Situation is a funnel for local artists into opportunities,” D.G. says.
D.G. is right to say they have the “highest level of musicianship” in the band, which features Jake Lynn on drums, Bobby Moffett on keys and as music director, Johnny Mullenax on guitar, and Jordan Hale on bass. Accompanying them is a rotation of horn players, including D.G. Rozell on trumpet and Dominick Stephens on trombone.
There are always looking to encourage people of all backgrounds and generations to come out. “A lot of people don’t feel comfortable coming here like I’m 43 right. My son is 22. He’ll be down here tonight. We all gotta come together because of the issues we address, like talk about the passing of Dick Gregory, or other social issues happening locally and around the world,” D.G. says.
Ultimately, “The Situation” sits at the cross-section between North and South Tulsa, and brings people together to collaborate and uplift one another. “It’s not anybody’s ownership; it’s a collective thing,” D.G. says. “That’s what the ‘The Situation’ is about…It’s important that we do this, this is what’s up.”
Check out “The Situation” every Monday night at The Yeti downtown next to Cain’s Ballroom to hear some amazing musicians and scope out Tulsa’s emerging talent. Everyone is invited, especially artists who need a platform and opportunity to reach their potential.