Hoping To Put Local Hip-hop On Map

August 13, 2009|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,sam.sessa@baltsun.com

When it comes to hip-hop, Baltimore doesn't have too many nationally recognized artists.

The major hip-hop record labels focus on cities like New York and Atlanta and spend little time or attention on Baltimore. Musician and event organizer Jamel Jones, who knows there's no easy fix for the situation, hopes that wide-reaching events at well-regarded venues are a step in the right direction.

That's why Jones, a 28-year-old Baltimore native, helped put together Burn Tha Mic, an evening of hip-hop, R&B and gospel performances. On Saturday, Center Stage will host the event, which features performances by Skarr Akbar, Carmen, Jinxx, Jeremy Lloyd and several other local independent artists.

"As a city, we should have more support for our hometown artists than we do," Jones said. "It's sad that 'The Wire' is the only thing we're known for."

Usually, hip-hop and R&B shows are held at smaller clubs. Jones and co-organizer Danny Roc decided to go with Center Stage, however, because "Center Stage is a great venue for an event like this," Jones said. "We've seen other shows being thrown at local high schools, and we didn't want to do that. We wanted a place where people can feel comfortable, a family venue, where people don't have to feel threatened."

Jones tapped Akbar, a veteran of the Baltimore hip-hop scene, for the show because he's a fan of Akbar's music - specifically Akbar's latest single, "Scholarship Chick."

"It's a hit," Jones said. "I love it."

This is one of the first bills Akbar's shared with a variety of performers. "It's a great opportunity," Akbar said. "I'm not even worried about me performing - I want to see the other acts."

Jones hopes this is the first in a series of Burn Tha Mic events. He's not sure if it will be held yearly or every six months. But based on the positive response he's gotten from this one, he wants to return in the future.

If you go

Burn Tha Mic takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. Doors open at 6 p.m. Advance tickets are $20. Call 410-522-8196.

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