Emcees, rappers, DJs and beat producers are headed to Durham Saturday for the third annual DURM Hip Hop Summit. The day-long festival will highlight talent in the area's hip hop scene.
Kurrell Rice is one of the organizers of the event.
"There's gonna be, like, break dancing during the breaks. So you're gonna see some dude spin on his head, and then some producer's feelings get crushed because his beat didn't have enough bass in it. And then you're gonna see like one of the next stars from the area perform all on one night."
Rice raps under the stage name Professor Toon and is performing this weekend. Rice told WUNC's David Brower that the area's hip hop scene is "burgeoning".
Rice, and event co-founder Jay Lawrence (known on the mic as the Real Laww) are pulling in a big headliner, Alex Wiley, from Chicago. But most of the performers have ties to North Carolina.
Lord of the Fly is from Chapel Hill. C.Shreve the Professor is based in Asheville. Cesar Comanche hails from Jacksonville. The members of No9to5 are from all over the state.
Rice knows Durham's hip hop scene intimately. He's been rapping and producing music there for years, under the stage name Professor Toon. Here's a music video that went up on YouTube in 2011, the year before the first DURM Hip Hop Summit.
These days, Rice describes his set as "a party with a little bit of depression in the middle." He says his sets are fun, and he likes to get the crowd up and dancing. But part way through, he'll give the audience, and himself, a break and play some more solemn songs that offer back stories from his life.
He and the Real Laww co-wrote D.U.R.M., an anthem for their city with the colloquial pronunciation of Durham. They crowd sourced a meaning for the acronym: "Do You Remember Me".
Beyond rapping, Rice says the Summit will include judged rap battles and beat battles, where contestants will compete for championship belts befitting a pro wrestler. Rappers will try to outdo each other in their lyrics and delivery.
In the beat battle, producers will play their original tracks, and guide their audiences through the nuances with visual performance cues. He says winners have "supreme skills, a little bit of cockiness," but mostly have put time into honing their craft. Some of the best producers are classically trained musicians, but others are just gifted with a good ear. Good equipment helps.
Rice says he's competed in beat battles before. He's never won, but he said the exposure did lead to a few jobs producing music for commercial TV and film work shot in the state.
The show lineup and ticket information can be found at the DURM Hip Hop Summit webpage.