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In The Studio: Murs says hip-hop is open to everyone

Hip-hop open mic, mentorship open to all

Los Angeles rapper and hip hop artist Murs stopped by the What's Up! studio with program manager for Groundwaves and a participant in the program, Preston Poindexter. Listen to the full interview at nwaonline.com/616murs. (Courtesy Photo)
Los Angeles rapper and hip hop artist Murs stopped by the What's Up! studio with program manager for Groundwaves and a participant in the program, Preston Poindexter. Listen to the full interview at nwaonline.com/616murs. (Courtesy Photo)

West Cost rapper Murs and local hip-hop artist Bxmbi, aka Preston Poindexter, who is program manager and a participant in the program, stopped by the What's Up! studio to chat about Groundwaves, the open mic and mentoring event on the second Tuesday of each month. Sign up starts at 5 p.m., and the stage opens at 6 p.m. July 11 at The Medium in Springdale. The event is free and all ages.

Below is an excerpt from the podcast:

Q. You've talked a little bit about the importance of community building, but maybe can you talk a little bit about how you've sought to create that kind of community here in the Northwest Arkansas corridor?

Murs: How, I think, is piggybacking off a lot of things that CACHE is already doing and entering the spaces that they've provided. Initially, Groundwaves began in Colorado five years ago, and there was a similar organization to CACHE and they were having a trouble getting the youth in. I assumed as the older guy .... that these kids don't want to touch grass. They don't want to see each other. But I would say I know what they need. [impersonates an old man] You need to get out there on the microphone with people instead of just [performing] on screens, but you're too scared to do that.

I think in every community, just like here, there needs to be a space created ... an open space for the youth to congregate and be young. CACHE has done a great job. I try to do a great job of just getting out of the way, opening the door, screaming for everybody to get in and then backing up and letting them shape and create on their own.

Q. [To Poindexter] As a performer, how has that sense of community helped you to develop as an artist?

Poindexter: I think it goes beyond just artistry. I think it helped me develop who I am as an individual. Knowing when I first came to the program two years ago ... a lot of people know that I'm the quiet guy who sits in the corner and doesn't say much; that's my MO. Even when I performed on stage I would sit down, basically, whisper lyrics into a microphone over a hard track because it was strange [laughs].

But over time, after meeting such talented and creative and driven individuals, I've found that it's easier to come out of one's shell when you realize that people actually care about the message that you're putting out into the world. And that no matter what your message may be, it resonates with somebody.

Q. I know that participants aren't just rappers, there's beatmakers, or spoken word artists ...

Murs: [picking up the conversation] Singers, we've had a dancer, I haven't seen her this season. I hope she comes back...

We had a gentleman come in and just sing last month because he'd heard it was an open mic, and I think that that's relevant. [At one of the first] Groundwaves in Colorado we had a guy who played the violin, and he wanted to learn rap and he was one of the best violinists in Colorado. ... he wanted to hide it. And I was like, "No, you come and do that" because people who play the violin listen to rap. In the '80s and '90s, there are people [who didn't listen to rap], now, especially with music being as free as it is, everyone everywhere is into everything. Everyone has a couple of genres on their phone.

We've had spoken word. We've had LGBTQIA, we've had non-binary people. We've had people fresh out of jail ... what I'm still looking for, since we're on this podcast, I am still looking for hick-hop rappers.

Q. Hick-hop? What is hick hop?

Murs: Basically Dixie rappers, like redneck rappers. They tend to fly the Confederate flag, and it's the most insane thing I've ever seen.... I want to tell them, 'You're welcome. You can wear your MAGA hat, whatever it is you want to do, come down and be a part of our community,' because I am firmly of the belief that hip-hop transcends politics. If we're going to move together as a nation, or as just a human race, we're going to have to start having hard conversations. And music is a great way to start those conversations.

Listen to the unabridged podcast at: nwaonline.com/616murs

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FAQ

Groundwaves

WHAT -- A six-month hip-hop open mic and mentorship program led by West coast hip-hop artist Murs and CACHE.

WHEN -- Sign-up starts at 5 p.m., show at 6 p.m. July 11, Aug. 15, Sept. 12, Oct. 10. The next day, Murs will offer a one-on-one session with the performers.

WHERE -- The Medium, 214 Main St. in Springdale

COST -- Free

INFO -- cachecreate.org/music-performance

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Listen Here!

Listen to the full podcast at nwaonline.com/616murs

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