Hip Hop Music in Carolina. Nanci O Follows It All

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Nanci O is great Hip Hop MusicHip Hop music lives here!  We bring you the latest news on the latest hip hop artists, and keep you tuned into the best in hip hop music, past, present and future. I, Nanci O, am a North Carolina native who both digs hip hop and technology.

So I gotta keep it real with y’all. I’ve been writing this post since November 2012 and have been struggling to find the words to finish it.

I felt the winds of change within the Carolina hip hop scene last year, around October. For some reason though, I’ve been having a hard time getting my thoughts together and expressing them eloquently. Guess I’ll just say it. Whether or not y’all think it’s eloquent, oh well. It’s time to finish this post.

The Carolina hip hop scene is in transition. These are very interesting times right now. The movement has slowed down considerably in the past couple of months, while at the same time speeding up.

Artists who were buzzing heavy regionally have become ghosts. I’m not even going to name names. Folks will claim I’m throwing shade. However for those of y’all who follow the Carolina hip hop scene closely, it shouldn’t be a stretch to figure who. Some of y’all have even asked me and/or reached out by phone, email, talked with me at shows with questions like “What’s up with such and such?” “I thought so and so was dropping a new mixtape/album/EP?” “When’s the last time you heard _______ doing a paid show?“, “I haven’t seen _____ on the scene in months.”

In RDU, many of the smaller venues that supported local rappers have closed. R.I.P. to The Brewery, Jack Sprat, Volume 11, The Pourhouse and Shakedown Street. Those closings have all been within the past year and some change. The good thing is we still have Local 506, Black Flower, and Casbah. Plus a handful of others.

A couple of our favorite hip hop events no longer happen, including Eargasm Entertainment’s Sucker Free Sunday.

I think the most sad news regarding change within the Carolina hip hop scene is when Randy Roper told me he’d decided to shut down his blog, WritersBlockMedia.net. I would link y’all to his site but Randy took all the posts down and everything else last week. 6 plus years of work. All of his great content is gone from the internets forever.

“The Block” was the #1 go to website for Carolina hip hop plus more. Randy is actually one reason why I started my blog back in 2008. Eventually we linked up in 2009. Between then and last Summer we recorded 97 episodes of our weekly podcast, “Where Is Hip Hop?“, where every week we discussed (and many times hotly debated) the latest in hip hop culture.

All good things sometimes come to an end though. We ended “Where Is Hip Hop?” a high note, as both of our careers took off: Randy, his Million Dollar Dreamz team and artists are growing like crazy (Clevis Harrison is still on tour as Trey Songz’ photographer/videographer, Sam King spent several months out on the road with T-Pain, and Honorable C-Note has produced for Wale, Waka Flocka, Gucci, Wiz plus more cool stuff is happening). Matter fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if C-Note hits Billboard this year a la Mike Will Made It or Sonny Digital.

As for me, in December I finally landed a technology position that has my career on the path that I have visioned for a long time, which allows me the opportunity to grow plus do what I love with hip hop and technology.

This post isn’t meant to be a wake for a funeral, moreso a recognition that things ARE changing and have changed drastically within the Carolina hip hop scene over the past year. Maybe at this point in the post, y’all can see why I struggled to find the words to finish this post. So much has happened, more than what can be included in this write up.

So what’s really good about these changing times in the Carolinas?

I honestly believe the “now” is absolutely perfect. It’s ripe for the right artist and their movement to take advantage of the opportunity to bust the Carolinas wide open.

9th Wonder’s JAMLA is REALLY doing it. I could run down all of their achievements but you can just go to the It’s A Wonderful World Music Group website to see all they have going on.

The NC State Cypher in Raleigh, NC is going real strong right now. Close to a hundred folks or more are coming out weekly (even in 30 degree weather) to participate in or observe the cypher. The #NCStateCypher is one of the most grassroots and organic/pure hip hop movements in the entire state. Folks who attend the cypher love hip hop and just want to take it all in. Matter fact, if you missed my feature on the #NCStateCypher, it’s cultural impact and significance to North Carolina hip hop culture, read it here.

One of my favorite groups of all time, Kooley High, will be releasing a new album later this year. Many more of my favorite Carolina artists like J. Cole, Keaton, and King Mez all have new music on the horizon for 2013. Matter fact, I’m not even going to start calling any more names, cause folks will swear I left them out on purpose.

The 6th annual South Carolina Music Awards will be held in July 2013. Say what you want about regional music award shows, I believe they’re a good opportunity for artists and brands to get their music/movements heard and/or seen by a wider audience outside of their local areas. If you network and really take advantage of an event weekend like the SCMAs, you can leave the city with new fans, opportunities for paid shows plus more. I think Dirty Dave and how his team Dirty Dollar worked the city of Greenville, SC during last year’s SCMA’s is a good example of that. Anyway, the dates, host city and more details for 2013’s SCMA events should be announced soon.

Greensboro, NC still has tons of great hip hop shows and events coming through their city. And to my delight, Durham is picking up with the quality of concerts. Just last week Nas and DMX performed in front of a sold out crowd at the Durham Performing Arts Center. It was jammin’.

As far as Carolina digital media outlets, Tasha over at SheBloggin.com has a great blog that supports indie artists, Carolina and otherwise. Trapp with TheMicDVD has the best blog for what’s happening in the Carolina hoods and streets. His site is just the right amount of ratchet without going overboard. Ace and Junie La’s The Not Quite Millionaire has a lot of great mainstream content (without being too copy/pasty like mainstream blogs tend to be). My site is still here too. I don’t have plans of shutting down, although there will be changes coming later this year that I’m looking forward too.

I told y’all at the beginning of this post that it’s been hard for me to express what’s happening here. I know that the changes going on can seem sad to some (like the tons of comments and Tweets, etc after The Block closed down, venues closed their doors and when the last night Sucker Free Sunday took place in Raleigh). However at the same time, when situations like those previously mentioned occur back to back, it’s a perfect opportunity for someone else, another event, a new venue, a strong movement, etc to take advantage of, pop off and do bigger and better things.

And remember, just because you’re FROM the Carolinas doesn’t mean that the Carolinas is your only limit. Look at Toro Y Moi and Terrance J.

So if you’re an artist, brand, business, etc based in Carolina hip hop culture, what are your thoughts on the scene right now? Do you think it’s changing? Is it for the better or worse? How are you going to take advantage of these changing times?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave them below, Tweet @nancioishiphop or send an email to nancioishiphop@gmail.com.

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