Perhaps the most lasting memory of Marinate, the 6-year-old hip-hop night that ends its run this weekend at the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain, has been the flyers. As a promotional tool, they functioned fine. But soon enough, the Beastie Boys-esque insanity—sharing champagne in a hot tub with blow-up dolls or riding horses in full armor—started to become something else entirely.
"We always managed to get away with securing ridiculous props and backdrops," says the mysterious DJ Knife via email. "We’ve had people lend us a horse, a dojo, throwing stars, whatever. If we thought it up, we could make it happen. One time we bullshitted our way onto an airfield in Beverly for a photo that made it look like we had flown an airplane to a show."
Alongside partner DJ Tommee, Knife and Marinate became an institution, holding court with sometimes up to 20 MCs, a true hip-hop party. "One of the best shows was our second New Year’s Eve party," says Tommee, also via email. "Akrobatik, The Floorlords, Letia Larok, you name it, all aspects of hip-hop culture in one night—and it went off beautifully."
In a city known for violence at its hip-hop clubs, it’s no small feat the duo went six years without so much as one incident. "I think part of past problems were overbooked shows where a lot of cats from different places didn’t know each other well," says Knife. "At Marinate, we’d remove any sort of competition. We’d only book one or two artists at a time. They were the stars of the night."
Among the many people who helped along the way, Tommee wants to give particular shine to former Milky Way booking agent BJ Ray ("He was the first guy to give us a shot"), God Forbid and General Stoor. Knife gives love to the Milky Way staff as well: "Marinate’s home was and always will be at 403 Centre Street in JP."
And who can forget the photographer? "Rena Coen definitely deserves a shout out," he says. "She accompanied us on many adventures."
[Marinate, the final edition, with DJs Tommee and Knife. Fri 1.9.08. Milky Way Lounge and Lanes, 403-405 Centre St., JP. 617.524.3740. 9pm/21+/free. milkywayjp.com,myspace.com/marinatemusic]