Charleston Hip-Hop Comes Alive on Labor Day Weekend (Photos + Recap)

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  • Charleston Hip-Hop Comes Alive on Labor Day Weekend (Photos + Recap)
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    Charleston Hip-Hop Comes Alive on Labor Day Weekend (Photos + Recap)
    Published: September 12, 2023

    Charleston Hip-Hop at The Bounty Bar on Folly Beach. Photo by Ben Beam.

    This past year has been a pivotal and busy time for the Charleston Hip-Hop scene. Not only with the number of shows happening, but with the locations of these shows as well. So far this year we’ve seen numerous showcases happening throughout the city at different venues that have been known to support local hip-hop; and even some that haven’t.

    Most notably these include Charleston Pour House, Lofi Brewing, Purple Buffalo, Rebel Taqueria, Tin Roof & Rec Room. These are all fantastic spots that have shown their love for the arts of all kinds, but thanks to a number of active and talented local artists, it seems more doors have been opening this year.

    This summer alone we’ve had hip-hop performances at locations like Chico Feo, Prohibition, The Whale, Mosquito Beach, the Royal American, and even John King Piano Bar. It seems that local hip-hop is finally becoming widely more accepted across the city, and the current generation of hip-hop artists in Charleston are as hungry as they are talented. 

    Labor Day Weekend was no exception, with two major showcases taking place.

    Friday’s event was an UnHeard presented hip-hop night at the Bounty Bar on Folly Beach. The following day was the One Year Anniversary of Charleston Underground at Lo-Fi Brewing.

    Friday, September 1st: Hip-Hop Night at The Bounty Bar

    Charleston hip-hop at Bounty Bar. Photo by Ben Beam.

    The Bounty Bar is considered a “sister bar” to the Royal American, as they’re both owned by the same group and operate in very similar capacity. This was the first hip-hop event that the venue had held in almost 2 years of being open. The lineup featured some legendary underground names such as Jah Freedom, Kil Ripkin, the Natives, and J-Liv, alongside UnHeard Entertainment. 

    UnHeard themselves opened the night up with backup DJ support from J-Live. As usual, due to their high energy and incredible crowd engagement, they had the attention of the crowd almost immediately. The beach goers strolling the strip at Folly continued to fill up the venue as they heard the music blaring from inside. 

    Their set ended with a 10 minute freestyle session between Nu, chemi$t and Mos Stef as J-Live played a medley of classic boom-bap instrumentals. This was the perfect segway to bring J-Live onto the mic.

    J-Live performed about 15 minutes worth of his classic cuts with backup support from UnHeard Ent, finishing out the set behind the turntables while still rapping. A true veteran at his crafts.

    Next up, coming down from Charlotte was DJ (and producer) Jah Freedom accompanied by MC, Kil Ripkin. The pair delivered a classic in-your-face old school hip-hop set. With hard knocking drums and aggressive delivery from Kil Ripken, they catered to the energy of the crowd beautifully.

    Traveling down with Jah Freedom and Kil Ripkin from Charlotte, the next performers were a duo called The Natives. The Natives consist of Chris Jones and Freddie Ray, both talented MC’s and creatives. I unfortunately missed the vast majority of their set, but their lyricism and true love for the art makes them an act worth looking into and checking out.

    Ending out the night was an impromptu set from Nu, chemi$t and b.k.a David Seward, performing cuts from Matt Graham’s 2022 album, “Sorry for the Delay.” 

    The love and support shown was a truly giant step in the right direction for hip-hop in Charleston.

    Saturday, September 2nd: Charleston Underground at Lofi Brewing

    Slim S.O.U.L & MoonKatDaddi at Charleston Underground. Photo by Ben Beam.

    The following day, Saturday, was the One Year Anniversary of Charleston Underground at Lofi Brewing. Considered a staple in local hip-hop of this past year, Charleston Underground is a monthly showcase curated and hosted by myself (Ben Beam) and has brought on 50+ artists over the course of one year. 

    Past performances have included names like Tyrie, R Dotta, Indi’Gxld, JTrawwww, UnHeard Ent, Malcolm Fl3x, Kuntry, King Cutler, BadTalks, B.A.S.I.C, Jeno Judges and dozens of other local (and not so local) artists.

    September 2nd, 2022 was the first iteration of Underground, and this past Saturday marked the One Year Anniversary to the exact date. The lineup for this special show consisted not only of those that are amongst some of my favorites in the city, but those who I truly admire on a personal level.

    Starting the night off was a DJ set courtesy of Matt Graham. Matt is one of the most well versed DJ’s in the local scene, and he spun classic hip-hop and soul cuts to get the evening warmed up.

    BadTalks at Charleston Underground. Photo by @leftycatchersmitt

    Following Matt was BadTalks, accompanied by Rural Resonance as his DJ. BadTalks, aka Tyler, has become a dear homie of mine over this past year and it’s always a pleasure to watch him perform. His sets are always personal and always focus on crowd engagement and the “vibes.” His production, lyricism, and vocals make for tracks that shine in live performances.

    Rhodium at Charleston Underground. Photo by @leftycatchersmitt

    Next up was none other than Rhodium. Rhodium is composed of Indi’Gxld, Amita Fukui (Black Zola), Josh Gecowets and Albie on the sax. Rhodium has quickly become a local favorite for many since forming. They combine elements of jam-bands, hip-hop, soul and jazz into one incredible collective.

    The group’s chemistry on stage is made obvious by their banter and improvisation, always leading to an emotional set for the viewers and performers. They don’t have any official music released yet, so check them out at your local venues and on their Instagram (@rhodiumblackgold).

    Following Rhodium was the much anticipated Open Mic Beat Battle between myself (Ben Beam) and Mos Stef of UnHeard Ent. This was a 30 minute segment where Stef and myself alternated playing beats while the crowd was welcome up to freestyle. The freestyle sessions are always a staple of Underground, but this was the most insane one to date. 

    Freestyle at Charleston Underground. Photo by @leftycatchersmitt

    Taking the stage during this timeframe was Nu, chemi$t, b.k.a David Seward, BadTalks, Indi’Gxld, MoonKat Daddi, Slim S.O.U.L, Matt Graham a.k.a Lonny Lechance, smxkeDoji, Kyi, and KINGJAY. 

    Stef and myself delivered a mix of old-school boom-bap beats between 72-98 BPM, allowing the marvelous talent on stage to spit back and forth for over half an hour.

    Freestyle at Charleston Underground. Photo by @leftycatchersmitt

    After the open mic was none other than UnHeard Ent. Backed by DJ Matt Graham, the group ran through individual sets with their time given. smxkeDoji opened up with about 4 of his high energy, lyrically potent, chronic-based tracks. Doji set the stage for chemi$t to deliver a smooth set featuring his track with Lonny Lechance, some other fan favorites, and a newly recorded unreleased track.

    Next up comes Nu, who not only performed with his usual high caliber energy, but brought out special guest Krystal to perform another newly recorded song, in which they both flex their vocal ranges. Finally comes Mos Stef, who wastes no time in his set. He performed 3 fast-paced, lyrically heavy tracks back to back to back, seemingly without taking a single breath. Sets like these are what cement UnHeard as some of the most gifted performers and MC’s in the city.

    Mos Stef at Charleston Underground. Photo by Ben Beam.

    Ending out the evening was the incredible Slim S.O.U.L and MoonKat Daddi, a.k.a GrandDaddi Caddi. Many of you may have seen these 2 perform before, but when their forces combine for GrandDaddi Caddi, the stakes are taken up a notch.

    With both of these gentlemen being well versed musicians and MC’s, they incorporate both into their act. Shifting from trippy live instrumentals, to a Gorillaz interpolation, to their classic hip-hop cuts like “LO$tD”, their set was a treat to end out the anniversary show with.  

    Thank you to anybody who has ever supported Underground, and just know there will be much more coming in the new year.

    Slim S.O.U.L at Charleston Underground. Photo by @leftycatchersmitt

    Weekends like these are becoming more and more common, with multiple hip-hop shows happening throughout the city at one time. This past summer was monumental for the hip-hop scene in Charleston and I hope to see it continue through the rest of the year.

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