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Degrees of separation 

Tightly-allied locals keep the hip-hop shows coming

The strength of community drives the hip-hop scene in this state, where the artists pull together to put on shows, improve recording situations and, most importantly, grow a larger listening audience.

At the Cat's Cradle on Saturday, May 28, a passel of the area's busiest and best MCs grab the mic with a full backing band providing the breaks and beats. Kaze, Spectac, Supastition and Median need little introduction to Triangle hip hoppers, but the threads connecting them may not be obvious. These artists, including The Remix Project, and the DJs involved--Dan Johns, Forge and Amen--stay busy working with each other and always looking to that next thing: a record, battle or showcase to hone their technique.

Kevin "Kaze" Thomas spits rhymes with a smooth delivery, bundling phrases into neat little packages. Kaze's calm and cool demeanor belies the Chapel Hillian's experience in all perspectives of making hip-hop music. He runs the Soul Dojo label, releasing his own records, and helped start the "Microphone Mondays" open mic competitions that were held at Local 506. His latest full-length, Spirit of '94, Version 9.0, features new production by 9th Wonder, the wunderkind beat-maker of Durham. 9th gets around, working on Chapel Hill High assistant principal Spectac's "When I Rock" single, along with 9th's Little Brother accomplice Phonte. Spectac's newest, "One Day," includes rhymes by Kofi and the legendary Big Daddy Kane, now a Durham resident.

Connect more dots: Little Brother gained national notoriety when they were lauded by ?uestlove of The Roots, who started the Okayplayer tour. Charlotte rapper Supastition's cut "The Williams" was included on the Okayplayer Presents True Notes Vol. 1 compilation, alongside LB, Dilated Peoples, Jean Grae and RJD2. Supastition's Chain Letters drops next month. As a member of the Justus League crew, which includes LB and Cesar Comanche among others, Raleigh artist Median also strikes close to home. He released Path to Relief this year.

Watching these luminaries spark up their verbal fire gets some additional heat from The Remix Project, acting as a real-time rhythm section for the songs with percussion driven by Raleigh artist The Applejuice Kid. Get ready to have this fire stoked up high, with the MCs' co-conspirator DJs spinning records.

Kaze, Spectac, Supastition and Median (all backed by The Remix Project) are at Cat's Cradle Saturday, May 28. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 day of show.

  • Tightly-allied locals keep the hip-hop shows coming

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