The Revival Of The RDU Hip Hop Scene: One Year Later


2010 RDU Hip Hop Throwback:

Pictured Front Row L-R: Apple Juice Kid, Charlie Smarts (Kooley High), L.E.G.A.C.Y., DJ Flash, DJ Skaz Digga, Kourvoisier, Carlitta Durand, Sundown (Actual Proof), DJ Ill Digitz (Kooley High), Helen Schaeffer.

Picture Back Row L-R: Me, Foolery (Kooley High), King Mez, SkyBlew, Azon Blaze, Tab-One (Kooley High), Pierce Freelon (The Beast).  Photo by Angie Luvara

Back on July 26, 2010 I wrote a post titled The Revival Of The RDU Hip Hop Scene. In Fall 2001, I began school at UNC-Chapel Hill and it was around that time that RDU was buzzing heavy: Little Brother had "blown" up, major independent hip hop artists were doing tour stops in the area and there were a lot of local hip hop events on a regular basis.

But by 2007, the scene had gone cold. I’m not sure what happened, but things had totally fallen off. There wasn’t much to do and to true fan’s horror, Little Brother had broken up.

However in Spring 2010, I noticed a major shift on our local scene. There were more events catering to our community, cyphers had returned, and local talent started receiving national attention. 

In looking back what was occurring during that time, I believe there were several catalysts who played a major role in getting things moving again. By April of 2010,9th Wonder had the ball rolling heavily with his label IWWMG, and began doing showcases of their artists regularly at The Brewery. Eargasm Entertainment began having their SUCKER FREE SUNDAYS on a regular basis at Shakedown Street in Raleigh. Kaze also held his Sunday Night Sessions weekly in Chapel Hill.

Now that the RDU hip hop scene is hot again, I’m going to list some great things that have happened over the past year for artists in area, including events. This is by no means a comprehensive list.

1. King Mez (Raleigh) appeared on MTV’s Sucker Free Countdown (Video) and also’s Freestyle series (Video)

2. The Beast (Durham) release The Guru Legacy EP: with features from ?uestlove, Jocelyn Ellis and John Robinson.

On a related note Philip Freelon, father of Pierce Freelon’s (lead emcee of The Beast), was selected to design NC State University’s Gregg Museum Of Art And Design.

3. 9th Wonder Addresses The North Carolina Hip Hop Scene: The drama, pettiness and discontent had reached a high enough boiling point where the Grammy-award winning producer had enough!

4. Shelly B (Raleigh) Releases Queen Mixtape With DJ Dimepiece. Super dope mixtape over old school beats.

5. Love Is Local (Events): The inaugural Hopscotch Music Festival presents an entire event highlighting the best local emcees.

6. 9th Wonder & Phonte Make Up!: The two squash their highly publicized March 2010 Twitter beef, and 9th Wonder will be producing Phonte’s solo debut, Charity Starts At Home, which drops 9/27/2011.

7. Kooley High (Raleigh) Lands A Worldwide Distribution Deal With Fat Beats Records: Their album Eastern Standard Time is re-released with new packaging to a global audience.

8. Inflowential (Raleigh) Releases An iPhone App: The hip hop band is the first local ones to use technology via an app to increase their fan base.

9. J. Gunn (Durham) Is Featured In The July 2011 Issue of XXL Magazine: The one with Lil Wayne on the cover. J. Gunn was also featured in’s The Breaks.

10. Median (Durham) Is Releasing A New Album, The Sender, On 8/16/2011: With almost four years since Median’s Relief dropped, and many wondering "What happened to Median?", he’s finally releasing new material.

11. K. Hill Returns With The Declaration Of An Independent EP: Another highly respected emcee, K. Hill took a long hiatus but came back in 2011 with dope material. The EP should be dropping soon. 

What are some of your favorite things that have happened in the RDU hip hop scene over the past year? 

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