NC Hip Hop Scene

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.

Tommy Coyote / Courtesy of Miriam Tolbert

How do local artists make it big these days? In the age of recommendation algorithms and music streaming, can a radio DJ spin an indie artist into fame? Miriam Tolbert is trying to do just that by slowly turning the attention of a commercial station back to the local scene. 

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.

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.

Rebecca Ward

 After more than 15 years, rapper Joshua Gunn is familiar with the Durham hip-hop scene. As a teenager Gunn made a name for himself in underground Durham rap battles. He paired up with artists like acclaimed DJ Terminator X of Public Enemy and MC Lyte.