Launching this week, a regular rap party at the Bottleneck will feature local, regional artists
A new all-ages, recurring rap show at the Bottleneck called lowercase KANSAS features local and regional rap and hip-hop artists; free food courtesy of College Hill Pizza Pub, now open in The Oread; free video games; and ticket giveaways. Expect a new show about every month and a half.
Marty Hillard, who plays guitar for Cowboy Indian Bear and raps as Ebony Tusks, organized the show with the local music scene's relationship with rap and hip-hop on his mind. The line-up includes Ebony Tusks; Heartfelt Anarchy, D/Will and Milkdrop, of Kansas City; Young Forest, originally from Raytown, Mo., but now living in K.C.; LiOn, of Lawrence; and Algebra and 1st Verse, of Tulsa.
JS: What was your motivation to start a regular all-ages rap party in Lawrence?
MH: I was eager to fill a void that I saw between quality local and regional artists and a town full of folks that enjoy this type of music and culture but don't necessarily engage it on a local level. I'm fortunate enough to recall a time in Lawrence when things were really fertile for rap music and hip-hop culture. Nowadays it's evident that there is a stigma attached to local rap shows and the artists that host them.
Nevertheless I get the impression that people want to engage within the community, especially younger kids who may only be getting exposed to the culture through the Internet. In a way I think it's really great that you can hear and see so many different artists and scenes but it's really hard to replicate a feeling of community, a sense of belonging, the dialogue that can only be generated in the comfort of your peers, the familiar faces you get to know over a period of time in a positive environment in which you feel included.
JS: Are all of the artists regional?
MH: Indeed. I plan to include friends from I've made from all over the Midwest as time goes on. We also hope to include national talent as we grow this event and community into something consistent. For now we want people to come and enjoy what folks in their neighborhoods have to offer.
JS: What are ways music fans can get to know the local rap scene better? Any venues, blogs or radio shows you suggest?
MH: Demencha magazine in Kansas City has done a great job of remaining loyal to local artists and giving them really comprehensive coverage. IndyGround Entertainment has been releasing some great music and will continue to do so. I feel like those blogs, venues and radio shows exist but I'd love to be more aware of them. That may be the biggest goal of lowercase KANSAS — generating awareness.