The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

Asheville rap artists feel neglected, but persist in the fight for recognition

Elliot Jackson
Rapper Terrence Brown, known as Eaze Dogg, performing at Shiloh & Gaines’ Songwriter Open Mic

Local rap artists say they are underrepresented and Asheville’s rap scene is often neglected, despite the popularity of other genres of music in the city.

“Asheville being a big music city, they need to have more support, more outlets and more venues for the artists of hip hop and rap,” said Asheville rapper Terrence Brown, who goes by the alias Eaze Dogg. 

Brown, 36, was born and raised in Asheville and said despite his hard work, he is ignored by the city he represents.

“I just feel like we’ve been overlooked and underrated as artists because we aren’t actually trying to make the bottom line as far as what they want to hear without actually seeing what we can bring to the table,” Brown said.

Brown said he refuses to move out of the Asheville area, where he could cater to a larger, more developed rap culture. To him, other music genres take priority over rap in Asheville, therefore a smaller audience exists for rap music. 

“Give the genre a chance. You got bluegrass, folk, but hip hop and rap should actually get its praise. It’s one of the most popular genres in the world right now,” Brown said. 

This is no new issue, according to Michael Capra, or Foul Mouth Jerk, a member of rap group Granola Funk Express. 

Capra, 48, said he moved to Asheville in ‘96 from New Jersey because of Asheville’s music scene, which he discovered on a cross country roadtrip. 

When I got here in 1996, the musical community was mostly open to hip hop. There were only a small group of folks actively trying to get booked at clubs rapping & DJing, though there was a lot more ciphering at parties and recording in their basements,” Capra said.

Unfortunately, venues were not as welcoming at that time, according to Foul Mouth Jerk. 

“With the occasional exception of MC Huggs, clubs at that time were unreceptive to booking hip hop, to say the least. Law enforcement would actually break up cyphers if they saw you on the street rapping. So it was largely relegated to house parties and bootleg warehouse shows at places like the Pink House,” Capra said. 

Foul Mouth said it is much easier for rappers to find places to perform. Venues are far more receptive and inviting to local rap artists. Although the scene suffers from its small audience size, it is significantly easier to perform rap music, as it has grown significantly in popularity. 

“Now you can get a hip hop show booked in just about any real music venue in this town. It’s accepted as legitimate. I mean you had full on rap battles at the Orange Peel. There’s even hip hop based brunches with live DJs,” Capra said. 

This acceptance does not extend to all, as some members of the city are still against rap’s growth in Asheville. To Foul Mouth, this can be attributed to rap’s existence as a black art form. According to the U.S. Census data, Asheville is majority white with 81.4% of the population, and only minority black, only making up 10.9% of the whole population. 

“I don’t know that there’s much the city can do to support hip hop, then they’d have a say in what we do. Maybe just don’t stand in the way. They still have a law enforcement presence around a lot of hip hop shows, especially where it pertains to the black community,” Capra said. 

John Wilson, 28, or rapper Sk the Novelist, hopes to see change in the Asheville rap scene. 

Born in Asheville, Wilson said he moved to Raleigh to attend N.C. State University, driven by N.C. State’s rap cipher and the position of a DJ at a local radio station. Wilson found his wings in Asheville, and was initially inspired by Asheville rappers MiKE L!VE, C. Shreve the Professor, DJ Jet and Spaceman Jones.  

“We are overlooked in many regards,” Wilson said. “I hope that changes, and I hope Asheville hip hop continues to get a bigger voice in North Carolina overall.”

Despite hesitance from a small audience, with support from the Orange Peel and other venues,  performances from rap artists are welcomed by many, and are growing more prevalent,  according to Foul Mouth. 

“The Asheville Music Hall, The One Stop and the Salvage Station are venues that do well with supporting and promoting local hip hop. They book local acts on their own and when they have big national acts they will usually match the appropriate local act to open. That helps artists broaden their spotlight in a big way,” Capra said. 

To find the work of Eaze Dogg, Foul Mouth Jerk and Sk the Novelist, Eaze Dogg said to check him out on Soundcloud, Foul Mouth Jerk said his latest project “Evil Note Lab,” can be found on all streaming services and Sk the Novelist is on all streaming platforms as well. 

“Any city’s growth has pluses and minuses as it pertains to music and any other parts of the culture. How that hashes out in the end for our hip hop scene remains to be determined. Guess we’ll all find out together,” Capra said.

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