The hip hop community and those curious about the art form now have a space to perform and learn at The Carrot on the second last Wednesday of every month.
Meaghan Underhill, The Carrot’s volunteer and events coordinator, explained the idea for an ongoing program began while programming events for Black History Month.
“We had a fantastic first show,” said Underhill, explaining there was a need in the community to offer ongoing programming. Khiry (Khi) Crooks, a vocalist in the group Locution Revolution, told her the hip hop community didn’t have a space in which to perform.
Locution Revolution members helped Underhill contact other artists, and soon Underhill created programming for an ongoing monthly event. Crooks and fellow Locution Revolution member Don “iD” Welsh host the evening, during which feature artists perform. Participants also have a chance to perform.
“If audience members want, they can take the stage to perform during the 20 minute open stage that happens between invited artists.”
Admission is pay-what-you-can. “We want to make it accessible,” Underhill said. “No one will be turned away for lack of funds.”
As for Crooks, he is no stranger to Alberta Avenue or participating in local events. He grew up on 118 Avenue, performs with his group for Kaleido Festival, and is co-director of Hip Hop in the Park.
He explained there are several hip hop artists in the neighbourhood, such as Relic, Brothers Grimm, and Billy the MC. Perhaps there’s something to the area that acts as a catalyst to creating hip hop artists. “Because we come from nothing and you don’t need anything but a voice. You got a voice, you could be heard,” said Crooks. “We’re also being told if you’re from 118, you’re not too much and we’re out to prove them wrong.”
Underhill explained hip hop is unique in how it evolved. “Hip hop is a political art form,” she said. It covers a lot of ground, from performing (dancing, rapping, beat boxing, singing, and disc jockeying) to visual art like graffiti.
Hip Hop Night will introduce participants to different aspects of the art form. During the hip hop event at The Carrot’s Black History Month celebrations, Crooks brought books about black history, the development of hip hop, and a series of graphic novels for people to check out.
Hip Hop Night is family-friendly as well, so parents can feel comfortable bringing their children. And part of the appeal of hosting the event at The Carrot is that it’s a small and intimate space.
“We don’t have a stage here—it makes it less intimidating,” said Underhill. “We’re also a dry venue. We’re a really safe, inclusive space.”
Anyone is welcome to attend, said Crooks, particularly people who are curious about it and don’t experience hip hop every day.
“I want [The Carrot] filled up and I want people to have fun,” Crooks said. “We’ve gotten more people each time and we’ve gotten people out of their shell.”
HIP HOP NIGHT
The Carrot Coffeehouse
9351 118 Ave
Second last Wednesday of every month
Feature Image: Hip Hop Night is family-friendly, safe, and inclusive. | Unsplash