London-born, Cambridge-raised hip hop artist, MC Kabir, describes his music as “a never ending journey of personal observation in song form with rhythm.” His art is inspiring not just from a musical standpoint, but from a literary one as well. Perhaps that’s why his most recent album, “Olympic Gold,” currently ranks No. 4 on the College Music Journal charts. On the first Saturday of every month, Kabir produces, sings and raps with the local reggae band The Dub Down at the Lizard Lounge in Porter Square.
Described by Kabir as “the coziest venue in Cambridge,” the Lizard Lounge may have a fun-night-out vibe, but attending a show there is like viewing a private concert in your living room. The event has sold out 10 of their last 12 shows. Kabir shares some of the highlights with us:
You have been playing at The Lizard Lounge with The Dub Down every first Saturday of the month for the past two-and-a-half years with shows that are regularly sold out. What do you attribute to this success?
There’s a combination of factors. The Lizard Lounge is a really fun place to perform. It’s a local haunt with a comfortable community type of feel. It’s an established club with a music-first ambiance and we have a great relationship with the folks over there. Musically, I’ve tried to make the night a diverse mix of hip hop, reggae, funk and soul and the number of quality musicians who have been a part of it is amazing. It’s a rotating cast of musical characters at times, but I think the people keep coming back because they know they are part of something special that connects all of us.
Are there any moments from The Lizard Lounge shows that you think are particularly memorable?
There wasn’t a specific musical moment but there was the realization that people were coming to see us consistently. I think it was the sudden realization that people who were at other shows were coming to The Lizard Lounge or people that I grew up with in Cambridge were consistently coming. That feeling I think started happening a few months into it – it took a few months to build it, but it’s been consistent since then. There’s kind of like a family feeling about the show, which I think is cool.
Your music has a clear social consciousness, especially your lyrics. How has social justice influenced your music?
While I don’t consider myself all that of a politically inclined person, I’m interested in the power of hip hop as a positive social force in our communities. It traces back to me being a senior at Wesleyan University. I wrote my senior thesis on the evolution of political hip hop. This started to influence my thinking as a song writer. I wanted to make music and not just write about it. In my thesis, I was critiquing political messages in hip hop and becoming so influenced by it as a writer and then thinking this is what I want to do. I started getting really into writing rap with some form of a message and purpose.
MC Kabir & The Dub Down perform 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at The Lounge Lizard, 1667 Massachusetts Ave.