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III Kings at Bills Bar
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III Kings
Bill's Bar
Tuesday, June 28th

By Jessamyn Cuneo

The most enjoyable hip-hop shows are the ones that seem completely natural. There are no interruptions to the flow; there are no off-beat lyrics or tight moments of hesitation. It's the hard-to-balance combination of free-form and rhythmic precision. If the group can seem like they're bending the rules and still adhering to them-if they can pull off the spontaneous vibe that only comes from tons of talent as well as practice, then they are noteworthy. The vocalists should be completely at ease on the mic, and it definitely helps if they can beat-box-it-up a little.

The Three Kings seem to handle all these aspects of a solid hip-hop performance while also throwing in some funk and soul to the mix. They seized the stage at Bill's Bar and didn't waste any time getting the crowd as excited as they were to be there. Within minutes, they had won the entire venue over, which was nowhere near as packed as it should have been. The lucky ones who caught the show left more than satisfied.

The group consists of three vocalists, and they all have strong individual presences onstage: Amadeu Tolentino, a tall West-African with long dreads, who stares off into some mystical place when he gets going with a flow; Joshua Melvin, with curly hair that sticks out as much as his crazy beat-boxing skills; and Michael Henry, who wore a black "Jamaica" shirt with a bold flag, which was almost as eye-catching as his bald head shining under the lights. Together, they make a well-balanced trio of confident, exuberant performers. When they jump, you jump. When they're in the zone, so are you, and you can't stop moving, either.

They were pretty intuitive about switching things up at the right time. When a few beats went on too long, they caught the crowd's vibe and quickly transitioned into the next song. The guitarist (Mike Hermans) and bass player (Ben Wright) were extremely adaptable and really cranked out the skillful riffs. Cannon Dwesse, the drummer, maintained a consistent and subtle backdrop to the set.

What makes this group so successful? They've been together from rock-bottom, and they pulled themselves to where they are today through music. Amadeu Tolentino got together with Joshua Melvin when they were both enrolled at Curry College together. The two were always talking about collaborating musically; they both recognized the differences and similarities of their separate backgrounds in music and were eager to experiment and try to create a different sound. Due to a drastic cut in financial aid, both were forced to leave school, and they moved in together. Music became their refuge, and soon they pulled Mike Henry on board and the three produced their first song, "Salvation."

"We aspire to be more creative every day," Amadeu says. "We're always in competition with ourselves, and sometimes simplicity is more creative. We're trying to create something that has a lot of value to it."
The III Kings are not out there to fit into any mold, their mission seems to be about breaking through what people expect them to be and becoming something much, much more. "We're trying to inspire people to step out of the box and see that music is bigger than money and other materialistic things. You meet the corporate world and you have to try and figure out where you fit in. It seems nowadays that [music] gets narrowed down to a certain sound that's on the radio all the time. Changing is especially important for the kids who listen-if the musician's mind is not expanding, the listeners' won't either."

They accomplish several things on the surface when they play-they give the listeners a great time dancing, as well as lift their spirits. "We're very humble when we play. We definitely don't try to come off as preachy, like, 'I'm here to give you this, this is the truth and the only way,'" he pauses and laughs. "We think back to the hard times we've been through and the different personalities we've had to work with. In life, in order to get along with everyone around you, you have to compromise. We want to give, not take."

"Our styles all coming together on stage is a representation of life-to be very diversified." The group has played outside of Boston with such big names as Busta Rhymes, and The Roots. They find the different ages, sexes and races at their shows to be as refreshing, as well as playing around Boston and outside of Boston as well.

"Music speaks to everybody," Anadeu says, and pauses to think about where the energy behind this all-encompassing voice comes from. "We feed off of each other a lot. After having a long day at work, you have all this energy you just want to get out of your system, all this feeling inside of you. Also, having a live band makes us more energetic, it's not just a track playing or anything."

"Music has helped us identify where we are," Amadeu says. He and the rest of the group keep up the steady pace to success. Be on the lookout for their shows and make sure to check them out if you're looking for a night of real, natural jams that'll bring you up. Music is their way of staying alive, and it's contagious.

For more information on the III Kings, visit www.threekingsmusic.com





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