Lyrically, Hip-Hop. Musically, funk.

Local hip-hop group, The Goonies, performed at Empire Brewing Co. on Friday night and delivered a show that challenged the boundaries of the genre.

The Goonies can’t be confined to the genre of hip-hop and they shouldn’t be confined to the city of Syracuse.

However, for now I’m glad they are, so I could see them before they blow up and conquer New York and L.A. It might be a bold claim, but with a sound as experimental and simultaneously addicting as theirs, it seems there’s nowhere else to go except everywhere.

The Goonies live are a completely different entity than their album, but they’re an improved one. Recordings from their first self-titled album were the brainchild of the lyrical duo, Clam Weezy and Illumination. Though their tracks are refreshingly investigational, they also meet all the requirements of kick ass hip-hop: deft rhyming and consistent timing. Hip-hop is all about the groove it builds. It’s a musical style that needs to make bodies move and heads bob unconsciously. It’s music that draws on the physical reaction, but should still stimulate an intellectual one.

The Goonies can do both.

Walking into Empire Brewing Co. on Friday, November 6, it was obvious they had the bodies moving and it didn’t take long for my mind to start moving, too. They challenged my conception of hip-hop by integrating other styles into their set. Most simply put, the equation would look something like this:

Lyrically, hip-hop + musically, funk = The Goonies.

Frontmen, Clam Weezy (Peter Cappelli) and Illumination (Langston Masingale) kept the audience engaged while their backing band, composed of Adam Fisher on guitar, Andrew Willis on bass and Kinyatte King on drums kept the energy in the room pulsing. At first it was strange to me to watch one of the best backing bands I’ve ever seen interspersing their riffs between raps, but it didn’t take long for me to love it.

Clam Weezy, a tall, skeletally skinny, bearded Caucasian stood on top of a speaker for most the set with his face right beneath a beating red stage light. He would grimace and shout or loosen up and sing, but communicated effectively either way.

Illumination complemented him with harmonies and a harder edge to his vocal delivery. When the band broke into “Mr. Perfect,” it was impossible not to feel the intensity in his voice as he pushed out the lyrics. The conviction the duo brought to the stage was electrifying.

The band fed off of it or fueled it. Regardless, whatever the pattern of inspiration, it worked. Fisher, with long brown hair, a partially-opened, loose fitting brown button down and what that looked like sweatpants from a distance (they weren’t, though that would have been awesome) was an unassuming, but an absolutely phenomenal guitarist. His interactions with Willis made it apparent that the two knew funk and could play off of each other expertly to create it correctly. King supplemented the groove with some of the best drumming I’ve heard out of anyone locally, with intricate fills and consistently driving rhythms.

The Goonies were just a well-oiled, funk/hip-hop machine, pumping out rap lines among funk riffs, introducing a style that hasn’t been experimented with enough.

Maybe now it will be.

The live show was consuming, lively, musically interesting and physically fun. The band pulled energy out of the crowd and demanded attention. It was refreshing to see an audience expecting rap and getting so much more to embrace the gift.

The Goonies future success will depend directly on how much they integrate their live band into the experiment. Though the musicians were not used on the latest album due out early next year, they would do well to make a live album capturing the organic magic they elicit in live performance. If they can manage that, I have no doubts they can manage a hell of a lot more.

Like they say in their song, “I Got Watcha Want.”

Admittedly, they do.

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