Akron will be hopping this week. Hip-hopping, that is, because, for the 5th year in a row, the Akron Civic Theatre, a Knight Arts grantee, will be hosting the annual Hip-hop Showcase put on by Keepers of the Art, also a Knight Arts grantee.
This year’s showcase will feature two of the ostensibly most cutting-edge and influential hip-hop groups of all time — De La Soul and Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Ismail Al-Amin, executive director of Keepers of the Art, says, “We are very proud to present De La Soul and Pete Rock & CL Smooth to the City.” He added, “Neither group has every played Akron before, but many, many people here have been and continue to be influenced by their music.”
De La Soul is a Grammy Award-winning hip-hop trio formed in 1987. The band is best known for their eclectic sampling, quirky lyrics and their contributions to the evolution of the jazz rap and alternative hip-hop subgenres. The members are Kelvin Mercer, David Jude Jolicoeur and Vincent Mason, who have been known under a variety of nicknames.
Pete Rock & CL Smooth (with members Peter Phillips, a well-known record producer, and Corey Brent Penn, the vocal half of the duo) have been known for playing a major role in the merging of elements from jazz into hip-hop music (jazz rap). The duo rose to prominence during the 1990s. Rock is widely recognized as one of the greatest hip-hop recording producers of all time.
Two solo acts are also on the bill: first Jeru the Damaja (Kendrick Jeru Davis) is a rapper and recording artist who is best know for his debut album, “The Sun Rises in the East,” which was ranked by one group as one of the 100 greatest hip-hop albums of all time; and, second, Special Ed (Edward Archer), a hip-hop musician of Jamaican descent.
There will be some local talent on board too. The winner of the 2012 “Akron Hip-Hop On-line Talent Search” is Ali tha Prince, who hails from Ashtabula, Ohio (and includes references to the town in his music). Though born in Fairfax, VA, he was raised in Ohio. He’s a young hip-hop/R&B and pop artist who also ghost writes for other artists.
Mick Boogie (Mick Batsyke) is originally from Youngstown, Ohio area. He is a DJ and mixtape composer. His collaborations have included working the Jay-Z, Eminem and Mobb Deep. For several seasons, Boogie was official DJ for the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.
5th Annual Hip-hop Showcase presented by Keepers of the Art at Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St., Akron; 330-253-2488; www.akroncivic.com. The Showcase will take place on Sunday, September 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$30.