As the doors to the Charleston Music Hall opened, a rush of eager Hip-Hop lovers infiltrated the theatre. Over 150 people made themselves comfortable in the spacious hall and prepared themselves for a night of history.
The excited chatter of anticipation died down as the spotlight focused itself on the curtain.
Charles Carmody planted himself in the middle of stage and graciously thanked the attentive audience for their presence. He turned the show over to Charleston Hype’s Black Dave, the host for the evening, and the crowd responded with applause.
This was it.
Charleston Live had begun.
Charleston Live is a bimonthly series being held at the Charleston Music Hall; the focus of the series is on the local talent that inhabits Charleston, South Carolina, or has some significant ties to the Holy City.
The magnificent attribute of this kick-off show was the genre of choice: Hip-Hop.
The chosen ones for the evening included Anfernee Robinson, Walter Brown and Benjamin Starr.
“We had never even seen each other perform before,” said Brown. “Yet, the amount of support we had for one another was amazing!”
All three of the emcees have unique ties to Charleston, but the lack of exposure to each other stood true to the scene’s biggest challenge to date.
Getting the Hip-Hop culture of Charleston to really know who thrives within it has been a primary objective for quite some time.
Seeing the variety of styles on the Music Hall’s stage was a good look for the scene’s progression.
“One of my favorite things about that night was presence each artist commanded on the stage,” said Starr.
He was right. Anfernee lit up the stage with a mixture of snappy lyrics and silky vocals that made the ladies stand to their feet. Walter Brown came with 808s laden with reflective, passionate lyrics, which engaged his audience on multiple levels. Benjamin Starr ripped the mic with political and societal reflections woven through rhyme schemes that nodded to true musical talent.
The show was unforgettable.
“It was kind of intimate in a way,” said Robinson. “The audience was paying close attention to everything we said.”
One would hope that the spectators paid close attention since these artists came with heavy experiences that inspired their lyrics. From Anfernee’s experience with homelessness and heartbreak, Walter Brown’s reflections on incarceration and the loss of loved ones, to Benjamin Starr’s brush with society’s racial undertones and the appreciation of women, it was hard to not pay close attention to the stage.
“Of course, I am definitely going to take this experience in to account when making future music,” said Brown.
That is a big feeling for an artist, especially on a more local/independent level. Knowing that people really vibe with your music is an accomplishment, but it does not stop you from pushing. In fact, it makes you want to make more music.
Overall, Charleston Live was a success. Some would say because of the amazing performances, but it can be argued that is was due to the involvement of the artists during the entire process. This event exposed all three artists to elements of the industry that local/independent emcees are not always able to experience. The event proved to be more than just a moment on the stage. It was a experience of a lifetime, something the entire audience sensed that night.
“People came together to support Hip-Hop,” said Brown. “The music community came together to support the city.”
Keep up the good work, Charleston. We can only keep pushing from here.