Hip Hop

Black Haüs

Hundreds of North Carolina musicians set up a desk and camera this spring for their chance at NPR stardom. The annual Tiny Desk contest gives unsigned musicians the chance to perform behind Bob Boilen's desk at NPR's Washington D.C. headquarters. 

Tim Walter / Zoocrü

Zoocrü is a Durham progressive jazz combo embedded in African diasporic music. They describe themselves more simply — Zoocrü is Black American music.

Rowdy performing in front of the Washington monument.
Courtesy of Mark Katz

The U.S. Department of State has a long history of utilizing cultural “people-to-people” diplomacy to advance national interests. One of those programs sends hip-hop artists all over the world to engage in artistic exchange.

Grant Holub-Moorman / WUNC

Thomas Taylor Jr. is fostering an appreciation of jazz legends like John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk among the state’s underground hip-hop scene.

The professor of percussion at North Carolina Central University sees North Carolina’s long history in blues and jazz as a natural foundation for today’s emcees. In his classes, Taylor invites aspiring rappers to improvise with him in front of the class — him on the drums, them with their words. Two students from that course now freestyle with him regularly.

Image of soul and hip hop artists Sonny Miles performing with a guitar.
Kai McNeil

Artist Sonny Miles is on a journey back to himself. After a year spent refining mixtape collaborations, he is dropping a new EP: “Gamma.” It is a return to his roots in acoustic soul and pays homage to the last three years he spent learning beat making and hip-hop performance.

Courtesy Dreamville Festival

Some 40,000 people are expected to gather in Raleigh on Saturday for the chance to inhabit a one-of-a-kind music and cultural world – Dreamville.

The rapper Oddisee has made a name for himself around the world producing his own brand of hip-hop. His style ranges from the 2011 album “Rock Creek Park,” which celebrates the genre with nostalgic samples and few words, to his most recent studio album “The Iceberg,” featuring lyrics that chip away at racism, sexism and the systemic forces that divide society.

Laura Pellicer / WUNC

The Triangle knows him as the night jock for K-97.5/WQOK where he plays hip-hop and R&B. Dion “Showtime” Chavis joins host Frank Stasio to tell the stories behind the voice.

MSMoody Photos

In hip-hop culture, the cypher is a circle in which people are rapping and beatboxing in a collective – a space that lays the foundation for the creation of community and music. 

the five members of kooley high posing in a parking lot
Brett Villena

North Carolina hip-hop group Kooley High is out with their new album “Never Come Down.” The acclaimed Kendrick Lamar-collaborator Patrick Douthit, better known as 9th Wonder, is executive producer for the album and one of the tracks includes Grammy-nominated artist Rapsody who was also a founding member of the group. Rapsody has since branched off for her own solo career, but she is still close with the group that helped her get her start.