NYC rap hits Otto’s

By Carl Nadig

Shinobi Ninja had an electric performance with a fusion of R&B, nu metal, hair-thrash and hip-hop Saturday at Otto’s, 118 E. Lincoln Highway.

Based out of the streets of Brooklyn, Shinobi Ninja is a musical group with old-school musical production techniques with an edgy, in-your-face stage persona.

It seemed the group’s goal was to point the spotlight upon members of the audience and create an atmosphere of community with fiery music and the enthusiastic love they display for it.

Shinobi Ninja’s integrity is embedded with the expectation that every show should be performed as though it were the performers’ last. Shinobi Ninja’s debut in DeKalb hit a nerve at Otto’s, as it’s becoming a rarity to see hip hop in DeKalb.

It was a breath of fresh air to see a band embedded in hip hop so dedicated and caring for their craft.

With a mixture of male vocalist Dave Aaron and female rapper Edara Johnson, the duo’s influence of hip hop and modern R&B juxtaposed two heavily distorted guitars that are too crunchy for garage or too fat for rock n’ roll.

Because Shinobi Ninja is in its teenager years, the group is drenched with experimentation. Whether that brings the group financial successful has yet to be seen, yet it certainly doesn’t register the group as dull or forgettable.

Quite the contrary, the performance at Otto’s was a testament to Shinobi Ninja’s musical diversity, which covered a wide range of artists from En Vogue and Janet Jackson to System of a Down.

Simply put, the group can be categorized as the younger, more rebellious, long-lost cousin to the eclectic sound of The Roots. Few musical groups possess that quality of variety, and Shinobi Ninja doesn’t disappoint if you haven’t seen one of its live performances.

On stage Sunday, the chemistry between vocalists Aaron and Johnson was matched by the hair tossing of guitarists Mike Machinist and Alex Confurius. All of the band members, except for drummer Dave Machinist and disc jockey Markus Hrdina, run back and forth between the stage into the audience.

Shinobi Ninja’s high enthusiasm and zeal could be seen as a rare gift or a cancerous curse. Throughout history, bands that offer fiery live performances either extinguish themselves with exhaustion or flare up to mainstream recognition.

As Shinobi Ninja drives back to the East Coast from its temporary stay in a tiny college town in the cold Midwest, it looks like the band is heading for the former option. After its show at Otto’s, Shinobi Ninja is a band worthy of your eardrums.