By David Lofton | Guest Editor

The hip-hop scene in Jacksonville is heating up and it has become remarkably apparent that the quality of the artists has been raised to a higher level. We have yet to provide that one artist who garners national acclaim, but from the current crop of artists, it’s only a matter of time. In the past, many have blamed it on the “non-industry factor” that Jacksonville has suffered from. Others blame it on “non-support of local artists” and ultimately the radio stations not playing quality local music. All of these reasons may have some relevance. However, we as hip-hop music enthusiasts play a vital role in this battle. We must demand that the radio stations play our best and brightest talent. Additionally, we have to support the radio stations that play hip-hop music.

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The underground hip-hop music scene has flourished in Jacksonville over the last 10 years. Downtown, Riverside and Springfield are hotbeds for local artists to perfect their craft by performing live at the former Lomax Lodge, Shantytown, TSI and hip-hop festivals like Summer Time in the City. With the true school hip-hop sounds of Asamov, Simple Complexity, The Smile Rays and numerous other artists, the foundation has been laid. Specifically, the downtown hip- hop scene is on fire. It’s hip-hop as it was intended to be: performed live on the street. This platform has been a staple of that existence. Emcee Mal Jones has taken this form to new heights; from Icon Boutique to The Landing to Chamblins Book Mine to Midtown Deli. The Lyricist Live Show has become a crowd favorite and Jones has been recognized by the State of Florida for his efforts. Make sure to catch this free show at every monthly Jacksonville Artwalk.

A new crop of local recording artists has surfaced and they are starting to make some noise in the industry. Cheech Forreign has recently blessed the stages at SXSW in Austin, Texas with her hip, soulful and infectious lyrics and vibe. Her latest project, “The Green Mile,” is noteworthy and definitely worth 50 minutes of your time. Locally produced by Rodney Prather (Average Jo Productions) deep and rich in quality beats, this project has wings. Another newcomer to the scene is Brentwood Slim. Named from the gritty area of town where he was raised, this classically trained Douglas Anderson School of the Arts musician traveled to the west coast, worked on his craft and has returned to Jacksonville determined to put the city on his back. His keen selection of quality sound and melodic musical composition is amazing. Brentwood Slim’s freshman debut “Loretta’S Boy” is just a glimpse of the talent possessed by this young man.

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Again, the hip-hop scene in Jacksonville is ready to blow up with artists such as Tough Junkie, Paten Locke, Willie Evans Jr., Mas Appeal, Mr. Al Pete, Arsun Fist, Stillwater, DOLA, Jason Plus One, The I Give, Everyday Jay, Mr. Jefferson and many others. Follow these artists. Come on out and catch a show. Prepare to be impressed.

David Lofton is a Fashion and Music Enthusiast,  Lifestyle Boutique Retailer and Duval Defender.