The creative genius behind PROPS, a hip-hop, rap-battle Jeopardy-style gameshow, refers to himself as “the only BS you can trust” and BS is indeed legit. David “BS” Bradshaw, emcee, beatboxer and event host, and the other innovators behind PROPS have put together an unparalleled Zoom event experience. According to BS, PROPS began with a series of ideas scribbled on post-its, ideas which he put aside for a while as he built his business and expanded his brand. And then the pandemic happened. In the midst of a global health crisis and an environment of civil unrest and racial tensions, BS and the incredible musical talent and Philly-based improviser Dr. Pauli started talking about how to support the hip-hop community financially and emotionally during these challenging times.
The two revived and revitalized BS’s idea of a freestyle hip-hop game show and thus PROPS was born. BS is the show host, organizer, creator, and co-executive producer. Dr. Pauli is the show’s co-executive producer, technical director, deck assembler, and barmaster. And Airloom Beats is PROPS’ one-woman house band.
The show is phenomenal. I saw it on Saturday September 4th and was immediately enthralled. This is not Alex Trebek’s Jeopardy. The contestants are a rotating cast of expert freestyle rappers. The rappers make up on-the-spot rhymes based on category suggestions that struck me as mind-blowingly difficult. For example, the show’s host, BS, might invite an artist to “emulate the style of another rapper and reference three of that rapper’s songs within 16 beats” or “create a rap based on the Broadway musical of your choice, excluding Hamilton.”
Imagine the most fun Zoom hip-hop mini freestyle rap concert that requires constant innovation and for contestants to constantly be flexing their skills. According to BS, one audience member called the show “the American Ninja Warrior of freestyle rap” and, having seen the show, I can attest that that’s a fitting description.
In this month’s performance, the three contestants were Aneesa Folds, aka Young Nees, one of the legendary talents from Freestyle Love Supreme, Lou Armistead, a reference and punchline wizard from New Jersey, and September’s champion, Rabbi Darkside, an MC, DJ, beatboxer, and educator. There was also an incredible freestyle performance by the eclectic and highly innovative recording artist Jackson Whalan.
As if the show weren’t awesome enough in its own right, this season, PROPS is supporting the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to indigent and/or wrongfully convicted individuals. A portion of all ticket sales are donated to EJI.
Performances are once a month, on the first Saturday of the month, and I highly recommend you catch the next one.
Tickets to the October show are available now at propsgame.eventbrite.com and you can connect with the PROPS community and get more info about the cast and competitors through the show’s Facebook page, S1 FB event page. Tickets are only $15, which considering the fact that the show ran longer than two hours, felt ridiculously low to me. But if you attend and you do feel moved to spend a little extra, you’ll have a no-pressure opportunity to donate directly to the artists of your choice. I’ll see you at the next show!