Hip-Hop in Harrisburg: Big Mike The Hypeman

by: Micah Jacobs
December 6, 2017

There’s more to it than the emcee. Producers, Djs, venues, promoters, managers, and of course — the hype man.

One of the more prominent and well-known executors of all things hip-hop in our town is Big Mike The Hypeman. A creative mindset to make his own path, build his own brand, all the while believing in Harrisburg and the city’s many talented hip-hop artists.

big mike the hypeman

I met up with Big Mike on a Saturday afternoon to get his take on a hip-hop scene that is on the verge of blowing up and taking the city with it.

MJ: There is no other genre or scene going off like hip-hop is around here right now, you have a good pulse on the city and the music, whats your take on where hip-hop is right now?

Big Mike: The scene is boomin right now but, it’s on such a small platform. There are so many good artists that have such great material. I think Harrisburg needs to embrace it more as a city. When you are doing something you love in a city that is not really set up to love you it becomes a dogfight. Limited venues, promoters, and artists stepping on toes. It’s getting a lot better over the past few years, people coming together and venues are starting to take a chance on us now.

When did you become Big Mike The Hypeman?

I would take it back to 2012 when my best friend, DJ Showtime, he was doing a show and he asked me to pick up the mic and announce something. Then he said “Yo, do that again,” I asked him “what am I supposed to say?” He told me to just keep talking and really every since then I kept at it.

You get to see a lot of artists, who are some of your favorite in the area?

There are so many — CB is one of my favorites. We are good friends and get to work together a lot. Mazon is another one that I’m really digging. He has one of my favorite songs out right now called “Manana” so shout out to Mazon. I also like the kid Swerve he is out here doing his thing. Those three are ones that you would hear me listening to in my car.

You put on some of the bigger events in the city, what all goes into making a success out of your events?

I’m really big on production. I don’t ever want to half-ass any of my events and make sure it brings together the right crowds, the right community and speaks to the right crowds and community. There is a lot more respect now than there ever was because Harrisburg is a movable market and there are a lot of people working at it.

What do you want to see moving into the new year?

I don’t want hear any more trap. I’m good, let’s get back to partying and battle raps. The whole trap thing, I don’t know, I just think there are a lot more things going on in the world that can be spoken on. Rap needs to be personal again, call somebody out! That’s what I want to see, I want to see someone get called out. If I was a rapper I would have called someone out and battled it.

What do you love about hip-hop?

It is something that is forever. It might change or look different but it’s not a trend or a hot topic at the moment. It is sort of like its own government with the elders of hip hop and right now it’s a bit messed up if you think about it. We don’t really have a respect for leaders, everyone is in their own little lane trying to figure out how to be the most dominant. Kind of like our nation’s government right now.

What is it going to take for Harrisburg to take it to the next level?

We’re knocking on the door but, it’s all about how and who responds to it. We need to make sure we are going into these bigger venues and bigger businesses and giving them a good product that they are willing to be behind. We have to sell exactly what we are putting out. At the end of the day, we need to stick together and really be a culture. Country music, for example, that is a culture. Hip-hop has to be the same thing and I think there is a force in our city that can make this move for our culture.

Do you think people understand that from an outsider point of view? Someone that doesn’t listen to hip hop or embrace black culture why would they take a risk on it?

So many people miss the point. I’ll just be honest, some white people get it and some don’t. Some black people get it and some don’t. At the end of the day, if you don’t understand different cultures and embrace diversity with an open mind then you’re going to get left behind in 2018. Hip-hop is bigger than ever.

What does the future hold for Big Mike The Hypeman?

There are so many goals that I have. Working on my company right now, Hype World Entertainment, more shows, more branding, going out on tour in April 2018, putting out my own project on a production level with local artists and national artists as well. I really just want to put excitement back into music and I’m having so much fun being a part of it

Big Mike offered a different perspective about hip-hop in our city and proved to me once again that this isn’t going to stop. Guys like Big Mike are out here influencing the culture with a conscious mind working hard to shed a positive light on hip-hop in Harrisburg.

Follow me on Twitter @HBGMicah using the hashtag #HipHopinHBG to follow me and my adventures as I dig deeper into the hip-hop culture in our city. Until next time, keep it live and local.

Categories: Harrisburg, Music, Nightlife

Hip-Hop in Harrisburg Pt. 7: WindchILL

by: Micah Jacobs
November 1, 2017

The seventh installation of Hip-Hop in Harrisburg features Universal Language Entertainment recording artist, WindchILL.

hip-hop in harrisburg windchill

WindchILL is rapper who has been doing it for 20 years and has worked non-stop to create the music he loves while reppin’ the city he loves — Harrisburg.

MJ: When did you first get into hip-hop?

WindchILL: I would say around 1990, when I was 10 years old. The first hip hop song I ever heard was “It Takes Two” by Rob Base. I remember when heard it feeling complete joy and seeing the people listening to it — they were dancing and it was fun! I knew hip-hop would be with me forever.

When did you finally decide that you wanted to start making music yourself?

I started creating in 1996 when I was 16 years old. I was in love with hip-hop. We would take a 4-track recorder, myself and my friend that went to East Pennsboro with me that had the beats on it, and we would perform at school, at parties, anywhere we could. We would hook our recorder up to any house stereo there was and started rockin out. People started liking it so, we kept doing it. Our first show was at a pizza shop on a Friday night. After that, we started booking fire hall shows and eventually we did our cd release show at The Midtown Tavern back in 2003.

Who were some of your influences in the area coming up?

There was a lot of Harrisburg artists — The Ambush, Agony, Penhead. I remember being at the Capital City Mall and the guys from The Ambush were out there selling their CDs. That was the first time I realized that I need to be doing the same thing. I got involved with a group called Artists Over Industry back in the early 00s and we were involved with putting a lot of local shows on. If anyone remembers back in the Dragonfly days we had KRS-ONE, The Pharcyde and even Method Man and Redman come through. It was a great experience to be a part of that. It’s very similar to what I am doing now being involved with Grind Mode and Universal Language. I just came back from Denver shooing a Grind Mode Cypher with the legendary Masta Ace. So from doing fire hall shows to sharing a cypher with someone like Masta Ace, its just been crazy to reflect on the progression.

What about hip-hop in our city, you’ve been around for it for awhile, what’s your take?

I remember when there were hip-hop venues popping up all over the city, and now we struggle to have a few. I’ve seen the underground scene united and flourish in Harrisburg, but I have also seen it have its problems. Right now, it feels good. There are a lot of different types of hip-hop artists coming together and working together. I think that is what hip-hop struggles with now more than anything. Because there are so many different forms of it a lot of people, myself included, are distancing themselves from newer styles. When I first heard some of the new stuff it was almost appalling to me, but I realized I need to be open to it and appreciate it. It’s nothing I can create because my soul is in a certain place when I create however, we need to be more accepting of it. Ultimately, us old heads, we have to grin and bear it. Last thing I want to do is sound like my grandparents when rock n’ roll first came out.

You’d agree that hip-hop is united in Harrisburg right now?

Absolutely. I booked a show coming up called PennsylMania Music Fest at HMAC on Nov. 11. What you’re going to see with this show is the diverse hip-hop and r&b scene in our city put on display. I want Harrisburg to be put on the map, I want this area to succeed and kept that state of mind when I was booking this show. We need the party style hip-hop to get us pumped up, we need the boom-bap lyricists to make us think. We get to learn about one another through our music, strengthen ourselves, and strengthen our music scene in Harrisburg.

hip-hop in harrisburg windchill

You’ve been doing it for 20 years, what is the key to staying relevant as an artist?

I have to be able to evolve and to change. I can’t stay doing 90’s boom-bap with scratches over a chorus forever. Even with my last album, there are different sounding tracks because you have to keep it fresh and keep people guessing.

After that last question we just started talking about Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and how we both really miss hip-hop groups and there aren’t any new groups coming out anymore. We decided it’s hard to really think of any new hip-hop groups (not crews) that are coming out and wondered why the shift? Does Run The Jewels count?

Check out WindchILL and many more artists from Harrisburg at PennsylMania Music Fest on Saturday, Nov. 11 at The Capital Room at HMAC.

For more music from WindchILL check out his latest release “2nd Wind” on his Bandcamp page and follow him on Facebook to keep up with his live performances and newest releases.

Until next time, follow my adventures in local hip-hop using the hashtag #HipHopinHBG.

Categories: Harrisburg, Music, Nightlife

Hip-Hop in Harrisburg Pt. 6: Dwight Lep

by: Micah Jacobs
September 20, 2017

The purpose of this series is to introduce you to everyone involved in Hip-Hop in Harrisburg. It’s going to take me awhile to do it, but I’m determined. From new artists to established, from DJs to producers, the idea is to highlight them all.

The boss lady was kind enough to give me last week off due to my routine seasonal change sickness that kicked my butt for a few days.

I am back this week shining the spotlight on one of the newer artists in Harrisburg: Dwight Lep.

dwight lep

I met Dwight a few months ago at a local show, and after his performance, I wanted to sit down with him and get a glimpse into what is going on inside the head of Dwight Lep. I knew when both of us rode our skateboards from opposite directions to The Sturges Speakeasy for a beer and to talk about hip-hop, we were going to have a good time. I’ve always said skateboarding and hip-hop go hand in hand so it was nice to sit down and talk with someone who feels the same.

MJ: When did you figure out that hip-hop needed to be a part of your life and you wanted to be an artist?

DL: I think my love for hip-hop probably came from my two older brothers, Wes and Tony. Wes is 16 years older than me and growing up he put me on to the old school hip-hop. I remember him giving me Eazy-E’s greatest hits and hearing tracks like “Neighborhood Sniper” and getting hooked. But, when 50 Cent came out and the whole G-Unit crew came out I was all about it. You couldn’t tell me anything else but G-Unit was the best. I’m a fairly normal white dude that grew up not in an urban area, I just like hip-hop.

When did you start rapping?

I remember I was 10 when I left this area and moved with my brother to a military base. So it was like culture shock for me because there was kids from everywhere. I got to meet so many different people that influenced my style. So that’s when I first started trying to write in the 5th grade and trying to battle kids in school! It really picked up when I got to Florida and everyone was into that Paul Wall and Mike Jones (who?!) scene that was coming out of the south at the time. So I kind of picked up a bit of that influence and style. When I was 14, I recorded my first song and I have just kept going at it since then.

Hip-Hop in Harrisburg Pt. 2: Vito Depiero

How does someone so young, even as a teenager, get any type of real influence from hip-hop?

Well, I have been in and out of trouble a few times in my life, but I found some of my best stuff comes from those hard times that I am going through. I have stacks of notebooks at home full of things I’ve wrote. I spend a lot of my time on my laptop making my own beats when I get a chance to, but it’s hard. It’s frustrating. I work to try to pay my bills, stay out of trouble and, sometimes it doesn’t leave much time left over for this and this is what I love to do. I just stay focused on my art whenever I can.

Say someday, you reach a higher level in hip-hop. What would you do to influence others that listen to you?

I would help people, man! I would love to give back to schools and help kids that don’t have anything at least get a shot at a successful life. There’s no need to drag anyone down so it’s all about helping people out, getting rid of hate. That’s what I would be all about.

A lot of your tracks have that party vibe to them. It’s important as an artist especially in hip-hop to make sure you’re rapping about what you’re living though.

Absolutely, I have a track called, “All in My Head,” and while yeah, I can put out the party tracks about getting turnt up and getting live but I also have deeper tracks that talk about my life and some of the dark shit I’ve been through. It’s cool sometimes to go into that deeper level with people that listen to your tracks. Also, sometimes it’s cool to get live and party!

What are you loving about hip-hop in our city right now?

I love how many artists are coming together and putting each other on now. I was working at MoMos BBQ and Grill when Vito (Depiero) rented the whole place out for his album release. He found out that I could spit so he handed me the mic. Now guys like him and Entellekt are putting me on their shows with them and I just feel so fortunate that there are artists — a lot of artists — in our city that are helping one another out. I have love for everyone that is an artist and I have so much respect for so many artists in our city.

Hip-Hop in Harrisburg Pt. 4: Entellekt

Another great adventure in Hip-Hop in Harrisburg and another opportunity to see it from another perspective.

Dwight Lep is working away writing and producing beats for his next project but, in the meantime, you can check out his mix tape he released in 2016 titled “White Noise” on his Datpiff artist page.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of Hip-Hop in Harrisburg and follow me in my adventures on Twitter @hbgmicah and use the hashtag #hiphopinHBG.

Categories: Harrisburg, Music, Nightlife

Hip-Hop in Harrisburg Pt. 5: C Bizzle

by: Micah Jacobs
August 23, 2017

It’s time for another installment of Hip-Hop in Harrisburg, and this time we spotlight a local favorite and fan recommendation, C Bizzle.

c bizzle hip-hop in harrisburg

Early on in this project, a friend posted a video by C Bizzle featuring MoneyManMeech to my Facebook wall. I was at work when the notification came across and I checked it out right away (during my next break, of course).

I was thrown back by what I saw — a huge, loud voice from C Bizzle featuring visuals from all over our city of Harrisburg. The opening scene features a massive piano intro, the camera approaching our capital from across the bridge while C Bizzle opens up his first verse of lyrical assault. I was immediately a fan and knew I needed to get in contact with him as a part of Hip-Hop in Harrisburg.

Check out the video for yourself and make sure you turn it up because this beat slaps!

MJ: What do you think of the sound that is coming out of Harrisburg?

CB: This city has never been this active lyrically, we’re two hours away from Philly, and we sound nothing like Philly rappers. I’ve heard people compare our sound to Atlanta too, but Harrisburg has its own sound and it just needs to be broadcast on a bigger stage. I remember back in 2010, one of my first shows, there was only a couple people that had videos out. As the years go by, more and more artists are putting videos out, being in tune with the scene and the music.

You’ve been doing this for awhile, you’ve seen this scene really start to grow. How has it grown for you?

For the longest time nobody wanted anything to do with artists, but when I put out my second CD, I rode around and sold 300 copies in a few days. It’s crazy because I’ll be walking down the street and hear people riding by listening to my music, people that I don’t know come up to me and are fans. I just started kind of playing around and now a few years down the line, it’s real crazy to see fans react to my videos and music. People are actually listening now and that motivates other artists in the area, especially a lot of the younger artists that are just starting out.

It’s been a common theme with everyone I’ve interviewed so far, is hip-hop about to break through in Harrisburg on a national or global scale?

We’ve never had that big artist from Harrisburg, we’ve had athletes but never any rappers from Harrisburg really blow up. So we all recognize that as long as we stick together, it’s going to happen. When I was down in Atlanta that is the one thing I noticed about their scene, they all stick together and that is what we have to do here in Harrisburg. There is a lot of dope talent in Harrisburg and as soon as someone that is genuine and has a good heart makes it in, it’s going to bounce through the rest of the city. I do everything I can to put Harrisburg on, I even put Middlesworth chips in my video!

c bizzle hip-hop in harrisburg

How do you feel about hip-hop today, in its current state?

You can’t be one-dimensional, so I always make sure I change it up. That is not the way music is nowadays. They want to hear you rap, they want to hear you sing, they want to hear you do catchy things so you have to be more than just one-sided. You have to build it up song by song. I really don’t release too many visuals before I put my project out. I let the city tell me what tracks they like. You can hear them singing it, rapping along with it at shows, and they will tell you what the next single or the next visual needs to be.

I want to talk about “From the Hill to the U” because that video means a lot more to Harrisburg than one may first see on the surface. Tell me about how it came about.

People from different areas of the city are listening to my music. People from The Hill to Uptown are listening to this, and when you listen to the track it’s two areas of the city coming together. I feel it was a good look because there are things going on between the two areas or whatever, but when Meech reached out to me and we put this track together, it showed unity. Unity from both sides of the city in the video, rappers from both sides, it was just a good look for Harrisburg.

When you watch videos from C Bizzle, and plenty of other local artists that I’ve spoken to or have on deck to speak to, you can see they all love the city and want to see Harrisburg succeed. Not just in hip-hop but in all aspects, from education to economic success.

There are no famous rap artists from this area for kids to look up to and, guys like C Bizzle know this and want nothing more than to be able to give back to their city, to be a role model, to help guide the Harrisburg youth in the right direction.

Follow C Bizzle on Facebook to keep up with his travels and performances. Check out his SoundCloud to listen to one of my favorite tracks from him “Cake.”

Categories: Harrisburg, Music

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