Ordinary Peoples, Toothpick to perform at the Outpost in Kent

Seth Roy

Ordinary Peoples (from left) are Gerard Garretts, MC Scraps and Ben Levels.

Credit: Beth Rankin

The hip will be hopping at the Outpost tomorrow night when New York City-based rapper Toothpick and Columbus-based rappers Ordinary Peoples bring their high-energy live shows to Kent.

Toothpick, aka Doug Ray, has been musically inclined for a long time.

Ray said he’s been playing music “probably forever,” citing kindergarten as the time when he first began freestyling. His interest in rap stems from listening to his older brother’s rap albums.

Toothpick used to be in the hip-hop group Bad Ronald. The group debuted on MTV’s popular daily show, “Total Request Live,” in 2001 with their song “Let’s Begin (Shoot the Shit).” Their music was heavily produced, with a DJ playing a track and the group rapping over the track.

His first solo album, Time Travelin’ Couch, is a more rootsy endeavor. The album was produced by Pop Rox, who has been widely acclaimed for producing albums by Michael Tolcher and Carole King. The album has many different sounds and instruments, from guitars to horns to programming. But when Toothpick plays shows, the band is much smaller.

“I like being with a live band,” he said. “It’s more comfortable.”

His live band consists of just three instruments: guitar, bass and drums. There are no computers or DJs on stage.

“The show is pretty much different than the CD,” he said.

Time Travelin’ Couch, which was released in November of last year, is a 13-song trek through history, addiction, fast food and everything in between. The lyrics are witty and sarcastic, providing many laugh-out-loud moments.

The title track is a whimsical trip through history. “Time Travelin’ Couch” is a funny, smart track with references to different turning points in history and even the Back to the Future trilogy. Other subjects on the album include love, the nation’s addiction to pills and getting high.

Also on the album is the title track to the hit McDonald’s documentary, Super Size Me. This song showcases Toothpick’s talent as a lyricist and social commentator. The song is also somewhat


“I’m a health and fitness guy,” he said. Toothpick doesn’t eat fast food, and was more than happy to write a song about the industry.

Toothpick’s inspiration comes from many different places.

“Sometimes I’ll be asleep,” he said. “The songs just start to write themselves.”

He has played at colleges, clubs and music halls frequently over his career, playing with groups from the likes of O.A.R., Ziggy Marley and Busta Rhymes.

While he’s never performed in Kent, he professed to like Ohio a lot.

“I’ve met some of the prettiest girls in Ohio,” Toothpick said.

“We’re gonna rock out and have a good time,” he added. “There’s gonna be lots of chicks.”

Ordinary Peoples

Ordinary Peoples, however, have been here before. They played the Robin Hood in the fall of 2003.

“We see the potential in Kent,” said the group’s MC Scraps. The group, whose current line-up has been together for three years, is based out of Columbus, and has seen its popularity grow in the state.

Currently, the members are working on a new record, tentatively titled Cause and Effect.

“We’re getting pretty close,” keyboardist Ben Levels said. The album should be available “sometime in spring.”

Cause and Effect will be the group’s fourth album, and will feature a more mature sound.

The new material has a “similar vibe” of having fun and partying, Levels said, but the music is more mature. “(There’s) a little more live sound.”

While their songs are written collaboratively, Scraps is the main lyricist. He writes about a variety of topics — mostly whatever is on his mind at the time.

“Just talking about personal, day-to-day stuff,” he said, “Like smoking pot.”

Many songs focus on what he thinks is wrong in society or in his life.

“(There’s) some political talk,” he said. “‘Brainwash’ is our most political piece to date.”

While the album is still in production, it already features many different guests and producers. DJ Kevlar, formerly of Poets of Another Breed, and Jerry DePizzo of O.A.R. both appear on the album.

The album should be available in March, and it will be distributed via the Internet through sites such as


Ordinary Peoples records in their own studio in Columbus, even though Levels lives in Youngstown. He commutes almost daily.

“He’s got, like, 40 kids,” Scraps said, laughing. “But he’s dedicated.”

In the past, Ordinary Peoples has performed with Kanye West, Talib Kweli and O.A.R. When they were performing in Colorado recently, Coolio joined them for a set.

In addition to their duet partners, the band’s audience tends to be diverse as well.

“We appeal to a large crowd,” Gerard said. “(There are) a lot of hot girls at our shows.”

And while they take performing seriously, Ordinary Peoples likes their shows to be fun.

“We like to keep it like a college party,” he said. “I’m drunk at all our shows.”

In order to keep things fresh, they encourage crowd participation. During the middle of some songs, they will bring members from the crowd on stage to freestyle with them.

With two competent, entertaining acts appearing at the Outpost tomorrow night, the night promises to be fun, and so do the entertainers.

Contact Pop Arts writer Seth Roy at [email protected].