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The Ultimate Forbidden Kingdom Experience [Day One Review]

Sometime in January, I decided to let my boss Hank know that I was ready to move on to the next phase of my life. I ended my last two weeks at the Chop House swiftly, packed up my bags and headed west towards Hoover, Alabama to visit my friend Kayla. It was during my final days in Alabama that I made the decision to move to St. Petersburg, Florida rather than Mooresville, NC where I originally planned to go. I realized that life is short, and the fact that my buddy Farmer was willing to let me stay in the extra room in his family’s house down on the West Coast of Florida sounded like an amazing opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. I chose this area because my buddy Evan from PsyEvents and I were collaborating on a show called “So We Heard You Like Riddim: Tampa” with a few other local homies that was supposed to take place on March 21st (but Corona said no.)

I asked myself, “What better way to promote my first show in Florida than by actually immersing myself in the culture that this region of Florida has to offer.” Needless to say, I moved in on the Tuesday of Forbidden Kingdom Music Festival week, so it was quite obvious what I had to do to celebrate this bold new move in my life… Head to Boca Raton, Florida to kick off my new life in Florida the right way. People say it doesn’t really begin till the summer, but the sunshine state doesn’t adhere to these rules – they will throw a bangin’ festival while its snowing in several states, just to give everyone a break from the harsh winters they always encounter. I had friends drive down from Charlotte, Virgina, and even Connecticut just to throw down for these two special days.

Evan and Lilly arrived early that Friday morning to scoop me up from my new home in St. Pete – I was really stoked to see my boi and his lady once again. I’ll never forget running into Evan last year at Lost Lands, it was such wicked surprise and we hung out for like four hours talking about Riddim and life. Now I live just a half hour away from him. While I am a bit homesick, I was really happy that we were all heading east for a once in a lifetime experience in the heart of Boca Raton. We scooped up the homie Tony who I had met the night before at the Getter function at the Ritz, and quickly made our way to the Sunset Cove Amphitheater to get down and dirty to some great Riddim. I say Riddim because the first set of the day was a massive back to back between the West Coast marauders, OG Nixin and YAKZ.

This was the first time I was seeing both artists perform in this beautiful new decade. You could say that I was a little pumped to be among all the other samurai who made it to Forbidden Kingdom early to see these California dons. The last time I had seen OG Nixin destroy a crowd was with my Dirt Sounds brother, Logan, on a massive battleship in the eastern town of Camden, New Jersey, whereas the last time I saw YAKZ was at my first visit to Valhalla Sound Circus in the distant woods of southern Quebec.

What I like really like most about these two heavy hitters is their unapologetic, can’t tell me nothin’ attitude when it comes to creating new music. Go with your gut and hit us with that firepower fellas – your fans are always ready! Yakz supporters were in store for a treat as they enjoyed the sounds of his new Trash Talk EP. But nothing hits quite as hard as his infamous Svdden Death collab “Shut Em Down” – no matter where you hear this tune, it will always be a banger. But hearing Yakz play it by a massive lake in south central Florida makes for a very special experience.

As for Riddim samurai number two of the set, you already know he threw down harder than expected. I couldn’t get enough of OG Nixin’s dastardly flow. My favorite part of the back to back was when he started playing “Chunk up the Deuce” which inevitably caused a sea of smiling faces and devious glares as everyone sang the timeless hook. The feeling of hearing everyone sing with OG and Lil Keke was monumental to say the least. My VA homies Tyler, Alexx felt the same chills running down my spine when he stated playing the “Fuck Aliens VIP“. You can tell that he made the right move busting this out for Forbidden Kingdom because it made the whole crowd go insane. I’m almost certain that I heard OG Nixin announce a tune that he made with the Pennsylvania legend, Akeos. But if I’m wrong then I’m wishing it into reality with this sentence right here. David and Luis, you guys absolutely stayed it. Thank you for the hospitality and good tunes gentlemen!

The lineup for the day couldn’t have been more perfect. Imagine seeing one of your favorite UK producers play right after some true legends such as Yakz and OG Nixin. While I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Monxx wonking out crowds in Quebec, DC and Charlotte, I was appreciative to re experience his craft in the beautiful Boca Raton outdoor weather. Right off the get go I found some appreciation for his visuals that displayed giant, floating 3D cubes with the word Wonkaholic orbiting around them as if they were planets. Monxx kicked his set off with his staple tune “Wonky Song” but surprised the whole crowd by doubling it with the newfound worldwide banger, “Jagerwomb” in a heartbeat. He would have made Glockz, AZABIM and Cybertr0n very proud with that one.

I finally got to hear a few tunes off his new EP such as “Wonkaholic” and “Vibez” (which I really enjoy). At some point I started to relate myself to the giant orange zombie straggling around in the lava on his visuals. His set had me in a complete trance. But what snapped me out of that trance was the news that Calcium was playing at the Cyberian Stage, and at that moment Monxx was getting down with his third or fourth Bass House banger in a row. While I can get down with these shuffle friendly sounds, T and I really wanted to hear some Dubstep from the Texas headbang enthusiast.

As we made our way over to the Cyberian Stage, I kept running into friends from all over the country sporting the mightiest bass faces around. My homie Avery from Charlotte was getting down, Connecticut Jack and Connecticut Caroline were having a blast, even painter extraordinaire Chris Morphis was getting funky with the rest of the Forbidden adventurers. Pretty much as soon as we got within earshot of the destruction, Calcium hit us with a big ol “Mega Punch” and made everyone in the crowd lose their minds. I remember hearing Calcium play this tune live for the first time at Arrivals Festival in St. Pie with my Quebec gang last summer – I was ready to bust out my mega punch with TFarris in the winter.

But every time the sun shined in my eyes, it was a solid reminder that Florida really doesn’t do winter. Calcium grabbed the mic and gave the Las Vegas cyborg, Aweminus, a little love for his unreleased, hi tech banger of a remix of “Frozen.” The first and only time I’ve ever heard this tune live was when Chibs played it at Valhalla. It’s quite possibly one of the most high pitched tunes I’ve ever heard, but I love every ounce of it. If you’re wondering if he made the whole city of Boca Raton shake when he blasted “F.W.Y.S.”, the answer is HECK YA! I love watching everyone dance to this one because their moves are always synchronized and everyone sings the sounds (Pa, pa, papapa pah). Biggups Calcium!

I want to give a little shout out to the guys from somewhere in the depths of southwest Florida who posed to take a picture with OG. Most importantly they played along when I yelled “on three, yell OG!” – in perfect unison all four subjects yelled “OG” loud and proud. The names of these dubsteppers were Bryce, Antwon and Benson, and they are by far some of the biggest OG Nixin supporters south of the Mason Dixon line. Fuck with them!

It was time to run back to Monxx and watch him close out his performance. One of my favorite Colorado producers was about to banana walk his way up to the stage and give the good adventurers of Forbidden Kingdom a taste of the other world of wonk. My first Dirt Monkey performance was in the Queen City a little over fifty months ago. Nothing can compare to your first dive bar Dirt Monkey show in your hometown. But he hadn’t created his Primotology or Wubula projects back then, so finally hearing him play tunes like “Baile Bounce” and “Particle Collider” along with oldies like “Slip N Slide” made me happier than a clam. While this festival included a lot of artists that create tunes on the wonkier side of the spectrum, you could tell that everyone in the crowd was enjoying the variety that the Boulder producer had to offer – from shoulder to shoulder everyone was bopping and popping around with a smile on their face, and it made me really happy. There’s no wrong time and place for a Dirt Monkey set, except maybe a little steamer in Atlantic City, New Jersey (SS Basslantis 2017 anybody?)

I made my way over to the Village Stage to finally catch a performance by a rising Florida producer who goes by the name of D3V. I know he means a lot to people in the South Florida Dubstep scene, so I was really glad I got experience some of the best talent that this state has to offer. In my time there, I witnessed this man double Subfiltronik’s Insight” with an unknown heavy ID, and as I heard the two tunes being welded together, I could tell that this guy has a lot of talent. D3V went insanely hard to say the least, and I certainly recommend checking him out if you ever get the opportunity. Here’s a good tune for you to headbang to! “Assassin.”

Throughout the entire day I had one little mission in mind, and that was for me to find my buddy Farmer and get down with him to some filthy wubs. Eventually we succeeded. But that lead us to our next mission which was to find the little astronaut totem up front near Dion Timmer. We had to take a little break during our mission and get down and dirty to my all time favorite Dion tune, “Very Extra“. Dion started to play some gas new melodic Dubstep tune that he had finished the other night – he didn’t mention the name but right before the drop kicked in he grabbed the mic and yelled “where my rail gang at?” It was a nice memory. Everyone got really hype when Dion decided to bring out Lucii the Alien on stage to play their unreleased collab together. I think its safe to say that anyone who experienced this moment was extremely grateful (that’s how awesome the tune was!) I like seeing unlikely matches such as that take place. Great job as always Dion!

I witnessed a very special moment where Connecticut Caroline gave this little dinosaur to a guy named Cory from Texas. We couldn’t really think of a name for him on the fly, like we usually do, but all of the sudden the name Darnell kind of came in to the picture, and it seemed to fit perfectly. Cory had received a dinosaur from someone at his very first festival a few years ago, so he was freaking out when Caroline gifted him one that beautiful evening. EDC Orlando was where it all started, but of course, the gang had to continue this tradition at Forbidden Kingdom. Much love to Cory and Darnell for showing out!

I finished off my Day One experience with some wild performances by Belgium’s all time greatest duo, Ganja White Night, and the Colorado bred Dubstep mammal, Bear Grillz. I had to take a little rest and lay out by the lake while Ganja played several incredible tunes off their newest album, The One. But what I enjoyed most was hearing Bamby ask the crowd if we liked Toronto legends Zeds Dead, before unleashing their incredible collab “Samurai“. I took this photo during that performance and I was really pleased with how it turned out.

A few minutes later I ended up meeting some really cool kids named Sam, Cousin Vinnie, Jacob, Matt and Squish. It was Jacob’s very first festival, so I had to commemorate this special moment by gifting the homie a really cool piece of kandi. This moment led into Ganja White Night’s infamous Boogie T. collab, “Flava” – the acoustic sounds made this moment as wholesome as could be.

At the complete other end of the festival, Bear Grillz decided to bring up OG Nixin to play his VIP of “Fuck Aliens” for anyone who may have missed it earlier in the day, which made for the absolute best way to close out the evening. Day One of Forbidden Kingdom was the perfect way to kick off festival season if you ask me (even if this whole pandemic has put it all on pause. We will be a-okay my friends).

I went to an after party with TFarris and Alexx and we met a couple interesting characters who were ceratinly keeping the party alive. We still had a whole other day of wubs and Riddim, but it didn’t really seem like sleep was much of an option at the moment. Eventually we made our way back over to Connecticut Jack’s Airbnb where I ended up meeting a lot of the rest of the gang like Jeremy, Ashlyn, T, and the homie Houston Arnold who was actually kicking it with OG and Tyler throughout most of the day. My brother Mason was also there which made me really happy. It had to be four or five in the morning when the rest of the gang made it to the crib. We were now being joined by four fellas from the army who were beyond ready to get down. Zae, Rubi, Chief and the homie homie Factory Reset comfortably joined our rave familia for the weekend. The more the merrier that’s what I always say.

Stay tuned for Day Two of the review! Coming out very, very soon! (Sometime next week!)
Much love to Madison, Chachi and Kyle (Zeni), among other homies whose names I can’t recall right now. I also want to show some love to the Sweeties, Nugg, Chimera, and Zapato who I had the pleasure of meeting that afternoon! I can’t wait to make our show happen this summer bois. Lastly, shout out to the charming. colorful and beautiful Nina for making me laugh.

I also asked Zapato to tell me a little bit about his experience and this is what he had to say! “

“The experience was amazing, getting to watch all my close friends doing what they love and doing what we were doing that brought us together – the energy during me and Nugg’s set at the Silent Disco was unreal! I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend!”

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– Zyven (The Riddim Professor)

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