Positive hip-hop. Is that an oxymoron? Not at the Producers Faceoff, a music contest where producers battle their beats against one another to rise to the next level, all with the positive encouragement of the crowd.
In its sixth month, this hate-free movement was the brainchild of Deryl McCray. McCray owns Brick’s Barber Shop, an Albany fixture that’s become known as much for its mushrooming music talent as its sweet fades. The events have already given birth to Ameer, who has been signed with Tommy Boy Records, as well as “Nazzy” and DJ Soundwave.
The beats are hot and heavy, but the atmosphere stays light. “We don’t want any drama or hatred,” says Brian Curtis, Super DJ Phayda, an event promoter and coordinator. “We’re trying to bring hip hop back to its roots for the people, to be an inspiration and an education.”
Curtis says the events, which take place at the Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio, located in the heart of Albany West Hill, are a profoundly moving experience, and they attract everyone from young children to old women. “They are almost like a musical fellowship,” says Curtis. The atmosphere is always inclusive, and you never know who you’ll run into there, he says.
The $100 cash prize proves a nice incentive for performers, but more important are the potential connections they might make with the music industry judges. Founders McCray and Curtis want to give opportunities to the musical talent in the community. If they had their way, all the winners would get signed and go on to make big money. But more important than that, McCray and Curtis want to reclaim hip-hop, to return it to the people it belongs to.
“It’s not about drug dealing and booty shaking,” says Curtis. “It’s about the struggle.”
The next Producers Faceoff will take place on January 26th at 8pm at the Linda, 339 Central Avenue. Tickets are $7/$5 for students.