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David Costa Lives: not just any rapper

John Benson • May 13, 2015 at 8:42 AM

Want to go?

• WHAT: David Costa Lives

• WHEN: 8 p.m. March 26

• WHERE: The Underground, 224 E. Water St., Sandusky 

• COST: $7

• INFO: 419-609-9463

Fresh off its second straight appearance at South By Southwest Music Fest last week, Indiana-based act David Costa Lives happily returns for a local show on March 26 at The Underground.

“With Chicago our second home, Sandusky is like our third home,” said rapper David Costa, calling from outside of Austin, Texas. “We’ve probably played there like 15 times. And every time we win new people over. Now when we come back we’ll draw between 75 and 100 people, fans who have been there for years now. We have a lot of friends in Sandusky. That town has been very, very kind to us.”

The Northwest Indiana native says it’s the Midwest vibe that not only fuels a certain type of friendly hospitality, but also acceptance to diversity and open-mindedness when it comes to all kinds of music.

“I think that the Midwest is very open to white people doing hip-hop,” Costa said. “If it’s good hip-hop, they’ll give it a shot. I stand up there and claim to be a rapper and I’m white, they’ll give me a song and hear me out. And if they like it, then they’ll get into it. But in other parts of the country it’s like, ‘Oh, white boy wants to rap’ and before you even open your mouth, they’re kind of second guessing what you’re doing. I think people in Ohio get into their music. People seem to be into original music.”

The latest original music from Costa and band is their debut full-length album, “The Starving Artist,” which features hip-hop beats, guitar riffs, synth melodies and more. Viewed as alternative hip-hop, David Costa Lives has garnered comparisons to everyone from The Flobots and Hollywood Undead to Eminem and Linkin Park. Lyrically, the album finds Costa touching on a number of social, spiritual and philosophical subjects.

The band has come a long way since its inception five years ago. Costa cites the normal cast of influences — DMX, Eminem, Twista, Kanye West and Tupac — but he stresses his music doesn’t fall into the clichéd traps of gangster rap or club music. Instead, he speaks the truth of what it was like growing up in the economically troubled city of Gary, Indiana.

“I was never a drug dealer or gang banger, but it was around me,” Costa said. “Like my album title ‘The Starving Artist,’ I come from a struggle, going without and having to work for everything I can get. I wasn’t a privileged child, so it finds its way into the lyrics whether I’m talking about a beat-up car I’m driving or how I haven’t bought a new pair of shoes in a year. But there’s no real violence in my music.”

Finally, Costa is confident his music speaks for itself, which is why he expects a solid crowd in attendance at The Underground.

“It’s because you can’t put your finger on what we’re doing,” Costa said. “It has many different elements from punk rock to hardcore. We’ve got breakdowns in the middle of songs. We have straightforward hip-hop going into old school hip-hop style. I rap fast. The energy on stage I think is what separates us. You put a rap CD in and you bump it in your car and it sounds great, but when you go see that live show, that rapper with 15 of his friends behind him and the beat playing through, it’s just kind of mundane and forced. What we do with the live band is bring those beats to life, and I think it buys itself the energy in the room.”

David Costa Lives appears at 8 p.m., March 26 at The Underground, 224 E. Water St., Sandusky. Tickets are $7, and are now on sale at 419-609-9463.

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