Something's been brewing up in Denton over the last few months and it's got North Texas' aspiring MC's all worked up. For those paying attention to D-FW's hip-hop scene, it's hard to deny the talent this area has been cultivating over the years. The only problem is the lack of crossover between the three most prominent cities in the area: Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth. Sure, trash-talking, local pride and unwillingness to travel outside of your chosen bubble will probably always be the law of the land here. Here to change all that, though, is DDFW Masters of the Mic.
A couple of months back, Callie Dee, the "First Lady" of Gitmo Music and of Right Round Productions, had an epiphany: North Texas needs an ultimate MC showdown between its three major cities. And after talking it over with Write House's RJ Avery and Keldrick Scott, the man behind Gitmo Music, the competition was born.
"We decided to do 20 MC's in Dallas, 20 in Denton and 20 in Fort Worth, whittled down to two in each city, where we have one big showcase in front of celebrity judges, as well as people in the media, people that are influential in our community," Dee explains. To get an idea, the pool of judges includes Blue, the Misfit, Central Track's Pete Freedman, K104's AV the Great, Crown and Harp's Moody Fuqua, and Too Fresh Productions' Joel Salazar, just to name a few.
"Doing something like this allows a lot of these individual talents to showcase themselves and a lot of these different groups get to meet each other, interact and ideally network. Kind of like what Keldrick's done with Gitmo: getting a lot of people together that haven't worked together before" Avery says.
As the founder of Gitmo, Scott has always strove to bring creativity and positivity to the scene. However, constantly being surrounded by artists can make for quite the battle of egos. Thus, one of the main objectives behind the Master of the Mic is to create a way to settle a lot of that boasting. "They [MC's] have to believe that they're great in order to succeed and I get that. Every single one of them thinks they're the best — I'm just really tired of everybody saying, 'I'm the best.' So, here you go. Prove it," Scott says with a laugh.
The organizers also aim to quash the tension between artists and media outlets from each city (just ask Blaze Won of #Baconomics about his middle fingers). And while a hip-hop contest may not be the freshest concept, it's not something we're going to complain about. "It's obviously not super-innovative or anything, but for Dallas I think it's a pretty cool step just because there's so much divisiveness in the scene," Avery explains.
So, this is basically a hip-hop American Idol? Well, yeah. The competition consists of 60 contestants and 13 shows in three cities (Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth) over eight months - all boiling down to the last two MC's standing from each city, who will then face off for the title of DDFW's Master of the Mic. In the first round, artists will be allowed seven minutes to perform two songs, with the allotted time increasing to 10, 15 and eventually 20 minutes in subsequent rounds.
Judges will be selecting their favorites from each round based on several factors: presentation, production, marketability, originality and ability to engage the audience. Additionally, after the first round, the audience will be able to participate in the selection of finalists, along with the judges. The final round will take place in mid-November at Trees and will be judged by celebrity judges. The winner will not only walk away with the title of DDFW's Master of the Mic, but also with a slew of prizes which are still being piled on, including guaranteed spots at 2016's Oaktopia and 35Denton festivals and an interview on KNON 89.3 FM with DJ EZ Eddie D.
With the details of the grand finale are still in the works, Dee and Avery hinted at some possibilities for the surprise judge's table.
"I'm talking to Abstract Rude out in L.A. and he's possibly going to be one of the final judges," Dee said. Avery added,"Yeah, and it would also be amazing to have D.O.C. and Erykah Badu, the king and queen of Dallas hip-hop, overseeing the final round. They're royalty,"
In the meantime, DDFW'S Master of the Mic is well on its way with Denton and Fort Worth's first rounds already completed. Dallas's showcase is up next on Monday, May 25 at The Boiler Room in Deep Ellum.