Local Band Local Beer: DeFacto Thezpian, South Rome, Jooselord Magnus, Alex Aff, Danny Blaze
The Pour House, Raleigh
Thursday, January 7, 2017

North Carolina hip-hop is alive and well, and though hip-hop in the Triangle area has yet to flourish on the levels of Atlanta or New York, this year’s first Local Band Local Beer marked a monumental shift within the North Carolina music scene. The hip-hop community is no longer asking for the support of the greater North Carolina area—instead, its participants are making opportunities for themselves through their own names and resources.

Locally and beyond, names like J. Cole, 9th Wonder, and Rapsody are recognized as the ambassadors of North Carolina hip-hop. National headlines recognize Cole for having “a platinum album with no features”, but outside of these three and Petey Pablo, not much can be said about the hip-hop culture in this area.

Why is that? Until fairly recently, the doors haven’t been open to to hip-hop artists outside those within the aforementioned circle of performers. Music venues within the area wouldn’t deal with hip-hop acts as they would with every other genre. If you didn’t have an agent, or weren’t on a national touring circuit, the odds were stacked against you to be able to book your own shows.

The Pour House booked five hip-hop artists for the Local Band Local Beer, three of whom—Defacto Thezpian, Danny Blaze, and Alex Aff—had just returned to Durham from their independently financed five day tour that included stops in New York, Virginia, Wilmington, and Charlotte. With the help of DJ DCM, the three emcees were able bring their own crowds through a growing social media presence, and a consistent online catalog that’s reached the likes of New York’s Hot 97 and K97.5, the Triangle’s only mainstream hip-hop radio station.

The eclectic crowd that Thursday night was electrifying. When Durham newcomer Jooselord Magnus demanded that as many audience members as possible join him onstage, I saw the Triangle’s diverse music fans unite in dancing together to his track “Pirates.” Drake’s selling tickets to his shows for two hundred dollars apiece, but at the Pour House, you could catch artists that were arguably even more talented for a mere five bucks.

The times have changed. As I waved my hands next to K97.5’s MirI Am and discussed local hip-hop with several key contributors, I felt overcome with a sense accomplishment for the growing culture we were all simultaneously building. Through the impressive show at The Pour House, the first Local Band Local Beer of 2017, North Carolina hip-hop sent a message to all the venues and prompters that previously rejected the culture: Respect our craft and allow us to draw the lucrative crowds you seek, because there will be a point where $5 shows for these acts are a thing of the past.