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Hip Hop & R&B Music

Hip Hop & R&B Music
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History


It wasn’t until the late 1970s and early ‘80s that the musical genre and culture of hip-hop emerged like a tidal wave upon America. The genre has since only grown in popularity and now frequently dominates modern-day Billboard charts.


In Austin, leading the charge in the late ‘80s was the pioneering local hip-hop artist Donnell Robinson, known better by his stage name MC Overlord. Overlord, a St. Louis native, had moved to Austin for college but dropped out a year later to launch what would be a 30-year rap career.  While there were not many stages where rap was welcome, especially east of I-35, he boosted the careers of young hip-hop artists by featuring them at a downtown club called Hip Hop City.


Some of the other hip-hop venues of Austin’s past worth mentioning include Red River’s former uptown club Spiros, Hip Hop City’s successor the Sanitarium, and the Catfish Station. The Catfish was one of the initial flagship hip-hop venues in Austin and had a good run from 1987 to 1995. SXSW’s Andre Walker and music blogger Matt Sonzala were responsible for the initial bookings of hip-hop artists at the global music festival beginning in 1994 through the 2000s. Famously, the festival launched many music careers, including Erykah Free who was discovered at a showcase at the Catfish by a Universal Music scout and soon transformed into the Dallas legend Erykah Badu.


Crucial to the late ‘90s and early 2000s was a local promoting crew called Hip-Hop Mecca which was founded in 1997 by David Crump and Doug Mecca. The crew was famous for putting on roadshows and introducing the state and nation’s burgeoning hip-hop scene to Austin in addition to local performers like DJ NickNack and MCs Nook and Smackola, the latter of which formed Austin’s original Dirty Wormz with DJ Crash. The aforementioned MC Nook also known as Charles “Nook” Turner, founded an organization called Jump On It in 1996 with the intention of uniting the local community through entertainment, hosting summer music events for East Austin families. After being on hiatus for a few years, Nook continues to run Jump On It events with his wife to this day.


Another beloved Austin music fixture Terrany Johnson, otherwise known as Tee Double, continues to make music to this day. Tee founded a non-profit called the Urban Artist Alliance in 2012 to educate and inspire young generations of urban artists.


For years after the closing of the Catfish Station, it was rare to see hip-hop shows west of I-35 in the salad days of Austin hip-hop. However, there were a few places like the Black Cat Lounge, which showcased a wide variety of music in its 17-year run including rap shows, and Austin’s infamous Back Room (currently Emo’s East). Near the end of its time, the talent buyers at the Back Room started booking acts like Bun B, Devin the Dude, and local talent Bavu Blakes after several years of successful SXSW hip-hop showcases. Blakes built his own legacy in Austin as one of the first local hip-hop artists to play at ACL Festival. Blakes partnered with Tee Double, Traygod Shekhem, and multi-instrumental wizard D-Madness to host the weekly “Hip Hop Humpdays” events at Sixth Street’s Mercury Lounge.


In the modern day musical landscape of Austin, hip-hop culture thrives. In 2010, the then-19-year-old Sascha Stone Guttfreund founded Scoremore Shows, now one of the largest hip-hop and EDM promoters in the state. Now under ownership of C3 Presents, Scoremore still books large acts for events and festivals such as JMBLYA and Mala Luna.






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