CW33 is finding its stride one year after layoffs cut the TV station's entire news department. With their merger with 97.9 — creating The Beat on 33 earlier this year — and after being acquired by Nexstar Media Group, the station maintains a strong community focus. When the idea of Breakfast Bars — a segment showcasing local hip-hop artists arose — it became an instant hit.
“People really love organic entertainment,” says K.C. Fox, executive producer for Breakfast Bars. “It’s what moves social media, it’s what moves the market in my professional opinion. I wanted to do something that would translate well to social media. There’s so much that takes place off camera that people don’t get to see ... let’s invite them in. And it just made sense for us to find the next big artist. We’ve got talent here that nobody talks about.”
During the segment — which airs daily between 6 and 7 a.m. — artists record 16 bars in a graffiti-tagged studio, and the public votes on the favorite artist. The winner is invited to 97.9 the Beat for an interview.
As cool as it may sound, it wasn’t the easiest show to put together — especially when it came to deciding what tracks the rappers would be spitting over.
“It was a challenge to deal with all the legalities of music licensing and everything because it’s a radio product that’s been turned into a format for television,” Fox explains.
As it turns out, the solution was right under her nose.
“All of the music is produced here by one of my employees, Brian McDaniel, who does a phenomenal job,” Fox says. “He’s an amazing producer. We found out he had that talent we didn’t even know about. And working with radio personalities like J-Kruz and DJ Kayotik, Veda Loca, they had that level of experience to bring everything full circle. It was fun. The whole process was fun.”
The fun for those behind the scenes also became an opportunity to shine a spotlight on deserving local talent.
“Anything that gives artists a stage or platform or opportunity to be seen by more people is really dope,” says Mozez Tha Great, who's appeared on the show. The rapper, whose real name is Cedric Moses, has performed with everyone from Eric B and Rakim, to Bun-B and Paul Wall. “That’s what’s needed for us as artists. Another initial thought was, it’d be cool to be on TV.”
Jacob Keen, aka Phazerellie Bambino — who’s opened for countless touring acts including Curren$y and Lil Boosie — is excited about the sense of unity that a segment like The Beat on 33’s Breakfast Bars brings to the
Dallas hip-hop scene.
“I really admire the camaraderie it presents,” Keen says. “It elevates the local music scene. It’s hard to watch Atlanta and California and places like that be stimulated musically. I feel like this makes people feel like they have a chance, like man, even the local news station is putting people on.”
As Dallas’ hip-hop scene is continuously growing, there’s undoubtedly an underdog energy that exudes from the local artists taking the stage night in and night out. Many artists are able to take matters, and their careers, into their own hands.
“Artists are starting to realize just how much power they really have,” Moses says. “Two years ago, I created #IAmDallasHipHop, which is an annual concert featuring local artists. The first year we did 350 people, this year we did 500 people, next year were talking about bringing in a big-time Dallas headliner. More people are saying you know what, I’m not getting booked for shows, I’m gonna create my own show. I’m gonna move my own platform.”
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Marcus Dade, who performs as Suave Burgandy, began writing music when he was only 12 and started pursuing a career as a rapper at 16. He believes artists are taking their careers more seriously these days. He's also been featured on the TV segment.
“I’ve seen a resurgence of people really caring about the culture as far as hip-hop in general,” Dade says of the genre. “People are image conscious, especially with social media and the internet. They aren’t as quick to just try anything, because once it’s on video it sticks.”
Keen's advice for those looking to join the music scene through shows like Breakfast Bars — and even for those who are already part of the scene — is that aspiring rappers should “stay confident.”
“That’s the biggest thing," Keen says."Know that you’re supposed to be there.”