By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle
MUSKEGON, MI — When the rain came down harder, the music got louder.
Jose “Jodi Dro” Loera and Jaron “Pape” Loera performed aboard the USS LST-393 on Saturday, Aug. 16 in front of a thankful crowd. Together, the cousins make up the hip-hop duo HDOE, which stands for “HD over everything.”
Back stage before the show – which is being called the “Showboat” – the Muskegon-native artists contemplate their upcoming performance. The main topic among the group is the stage they are performing on.
Not many people see hip hop and the military in a similar light, but for some it hits home.
“It shows that we can break down any barriers,” Jaron says keeping his arms crossed. “We were excited to play on this ship.”
As the performers continue to ready themselves for the show in the “Ward Room,” multiple people come to the door asking questions and popping in to say hello. The scene is hectic and a bit overwhelming, but that’s all part of the job according to Jose.
“Rapping is my job,” Jose says. The performers seem anxious, but their calm demeanor is yielding. “If we don’t do good, then I ain’t doing too good. This is my life.”
Outside the crowd grows antsy, as the rain begins to fall – slow at first. The “Showboat” kicks off with the National Anthem and is now underway.
Ray Gottie livens things up with a few songs before being relieved by Unkey Fenzarelli. Now the crowd begins to gather at the front of the stage and the rain continues to fall harder.
N1NO & Franchi$e were next and with them came the towels. A look out from beyond the stage and the duo can see umbrellas and trash bags being put to use halfway through the third set.
With five opening acts, the HDOE presented other Muskegon talent as well as groups from Grand Rapids and Traverse City.
Throughout the show Jose is seen talking up the performers and acknowledging some of the crowd as the show progresses. The rain picks up even more, but the performers remain on stage.
The deck becomes slippery as spectators continue to dance, while others run to their cars for shelter. But they soon reboard the ship when HDOE takes the stage ahead of schedule.
In the dark, with a drummer seated above them, the duo opens with “What I’m Worth” and gives the crowd what they came for.
With a towel in hand, Jose thanks the crowd and tells them, “We don’t care about a little rain.”
The crowd gathers around the stage in a “U” formation and discards the bags and umbrellas. Jose and Jaron spit and rhyme as their clothes begin to collect water.
From a bird’s eye view, the only lights on the main deck are behind the two dancing figures. As the lights behind the stage change colors, HDOE is illuminated in both light and rain.
After they finish their set – with the juices still flowing – they realize it will all come full circle when they leave the stage.
“I forgot to eat today,” Jose admits. “It will all wind down for me once we get home.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 17, 2014)