Beat Of The 'Burg

Hip-Hop Showcase To Highlight Area Rap Scene

Posted: October 12, 2012

Tonight, hip-hop music comes to the forefront during Harrisonburg’s Hip-Hop Showcase. Adona Music (Downtown 43) will host a handful of artists led by one determined James Madison University sophomore in hopes of launching the genre to new heights locally.

“There’s been a big rock scene in Harrisonburg, but the hip-hop scene is kind of low. By doing [the showcase] we’re going to give people a chance to come out and see what we’re all about,” said Ben Sollars, who will perform on stage for the first time as $ollars.

Lyrics An Outlet

Although hip-hop has gotten a bad rap, not all hip-hop songs are about drinking and promiscuity. Many artists delve deeper into everyday issues.

“I rap about everything from parties to my life to the struggles of kids my age,” explained $ollars.
And not all rappers adhere to mainstream standards of babes and bottles. Artists such as Lee Andes put a different spin on the genre with no detriment to their careers.

“My music is my own personal expression. Personally, I am a Christian, I’m not a Gospel rapper by any means, but my faith comes out in my message,” explained Andes, known as Crimson in the rap world.

“I don’t rap about pie in the sky, clubs and bottles and girls, it’s not something I’ve experienced. My message is down to Earth and relatable to everyday life and it always has a positive message and spin,” Crimson continued.

Andes began his rap career with a high school friend in Broadway. After opening for a big name group at JMU this past spring, he relocated to Columbia, S.C., to pursue a career in the industry.

“I’ve been blessed to do a bunch of shows in Harrisonburg … and I’m building off of that. Every artist’s dream is to do it full-time and do nothing but music,” said Crimson.

Rocktown Hip-hop

Artists such as Crimson and $ollars gave Mark Fries, a 19-year-old JMU sophomore majoring in interdisciplinary liberal studies, the idea for the event.

Fries began booking shows and planning concerts while still in high school, and after learning the Harrisonburg scene, he recognized the need for a hip-hop venue, as most in the area generally feature acoustic or rock acts.

“I noticed there are a lot of rappers and hip-hop artists in Harrisonburg [that go unnoticed]. And I’d like to give those artists a chance,” explained Fries.

“Crimson and I met at a show at JMU; he rapped with my friend Chris, who is doing a DJ set. Waggy is more on the reggaeton side of things, a little more like Latin-flavor music,” said Fries.

Now, with college back in session, the hip-hop audience is prime.

New Space In H’burg

With a flourishing music scene such as the one in downtown Harrisonburg, Fries and the performers are hoping to carve out a niche. Finding a local venue willing to put on a hip-hop show was part of the struggle for local artists, but there are hopes the showcase will erase concern.

“There’s a lot of artists doing hip-hop that are really talented but because there’s not a venue willing to put it on and give it a chance [it’s underground],” said Crimson.

Perhaps this event, with the promise of a large crowd, will be enough to convince local club owners just how popular hip-hop is in the area.
“Being a college town, Harrisonburg has a very diverse and eclectic music taste. I think [the showcase] is important because it’s such a viral industry and music … Everybody has a certain taste for hip-hop,” explained Crimson.

Fries has future hopes of monthly hip-hop events in the area to help foster the relationship between students and downtown business owners.
“I think music in general is really great for a community. [The show offers a chance to get] a lot of JMU kids out of the bubble and into downtown; it really benefits everyone,” explained Fries.

“We’ve had some great success with promotion and excitement with people online, it’s gotten me amped up, sharing what I’ve been blessed to do and what my talent is. I’m excited, I think there’s going to be a great turnout,” said Crimson.

The Harrisonburg Hip-Hop Showcase will start at 6 p.m. Oct. 12. Tickets are available for $5 online and at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit

Contact Kate Kersey at or 574-6218.

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