Appearing on the rap scene in 1986 as a member of the Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One released his first hit single “South Bronx” with his late DJ Scott La Rock. An acronym for “Knowledge Reigning Supreme,” KRS has been called the “conscience of Hip Hop” (Rolling Stone), “the greatest live emcee ever” (The Source), the “spokesperson for Hip Hop” (Wall Street Journal), “master teacher” (Zulu Nation) and the “son of Hip Hop” (Kool DJ Herc).
With 20 published albums to his credit and his numerous appearances with other artists, KRS-One is believed to have written the most rhymes in Hip Hop’s history. In the 1990s as “hip-hop” grew more and more commercialized and corporate, it was KRS-One that openly rejected such cultural exploitation and materialism grounding Hip Hop in its original principles of peace, love, unity and safely having fun. Teaching everything from self-creation to stopping violence; from vegetarianism to transcendental meditation, from the establishment of Hip Hop Appreciation Week (every third week in May) to establishing Hip Hop as an international culture at the United Nations (2001), KRS-One has single-handedly held the history and original arts of Hip Hop together now for over two decades.
In addition to lecturing at over 500 universities in the United States and publishing three ground-breaking books; “The Science of Rap” (1995), “Ruminations” (2003), and the Gospel of Hip Hop” (2009), KRS-One has also established the Stop The Violence Movement (1989), influenced the creation of the “West-Coast All-Stars’ anti-gang anthem “We’re All In The Same Gang” (1990), warned the Hip Hop community against giving up their humanity for technological advancement (H. E. A. L.—Human Education Against Lies1991), and has established the Temple of Hip Hop for the spiritual exploration of Hip Hop’s culture (1996). It was KRS-One who first argued that “rap is something we do; Hip Hop is something we live” and introduced the “I am Hip Hop” philosophy in 1994 which Black Entertainment Television uses as the title of their Hip Hop Lifetime Achievement Award today.
Without question, KRS-One has been the loudest voice for the actual preservation and expansion of original Hip Hop worldwide. When he is not touring or lecturing, on his so-called “down-time”, KRS-One continues to share his unique knowledge of Hip Hop to younger audiences eager to hear the ‘teacha’ speak. Operating as a kind of “pop-up” school, KRS-One’s Temple of Hip Hop has appeared in various cities in the US, UK, and Europe offering the more serious student of Hip Hop an effective way to live and understand the culture of Hip Hop more deeply.
North Carolina rapper Petey Pablo took the quick route to the top of the rap game in the early 21st century, making his breakthrough in 2001 with his debut single and North Carolina anthem "Raise Up." The muscular hype track helped push his first album, Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry, toward the Top Ten and garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. His follow-up single and album, the explicit "Freek-a-Leek" from 2004's Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry, extended his mainstream popularity. He released his third effort in 2018 with, Keep on Goin' this also marked his venture into entrepreneurship. Petey continues to WOW crowds with his electric live performance and endless energy onstage.
Before establishing himself as a solo artist in the early 2000s, Mr. Cheeks made a name for himself as a member of the Lost Boyz in the mid-to-late '90s. Cheeks and the other members of the Lost Boyz practiced a sincere, literate, non-sensational style of New York hip-hop. As a result, they never attained substantial commercial success, yet garnered substantial critical acclaim and were underground favorites. But when member Freaky Tah met an unfortunate demise, the Lost Boyz soon broke ranks and remained quiet. Cheeks resurfaced in late 2001, though, and he came with a more mature outlook on life that informed his rhymes with a greater sense of knowledge and truth than before. His debut solo album, John P. Kelly, featured the massive hit single "Lights, Camera, Action!" as well as production by a broad roster of producers including Stephen Marley, Bink!, and Easy Mo Bee. Cheeks continues to perform live regularly and also releases music quite often.
Undeniably one of the hottest groups of the 90s, Intro consisted of Kenny Greene, Clinton “Buddy” Wike, and Jeff Sanders. The trio recorded a number of fan favorites such as “Come Inside,” “Let Me Be The One,” and a remake of Stevie Wonder's classic “Ribbon in the Sky," which climbed to the top of the charts. Intro released their self-titled debut album while signed to Atlantic in 1993. Despite being R&B's underdogs, Intro was able to launch several successful hits and propel their album to Platinum status. “Come Inside” went on to be their most successful song to date, reaching #9 on Billboards R&B charts and #33 on the Hot 100. The group has writing credits for tracks belonging to Mary J. Blige, Soul 4 Real, Will Smith, 98 Degrees, Tyrese, and a host of others. Recognized by ASCAP for R&B Songwriters of the Year proved that Intro consisted of three talented members.
In October of 2001, lead singer and songwriter Kenny Greene passed away. Not only did the group lose a bandmate but they also lost a great friend. The remaining members decided to continue touring. They have toured over 15 countries most recently Great Britain. Intro has been hard at work planning their 30th-anniversary Vinyl tour as well as a release of a 30th-anniversary double vinyl album.
Alter Egos Band
Alter Egos Band was birthed out of Greensboro, North Carolina, in September of 2015, with the intention of highlighting and showcasing the diverse talents of female entertainers in the city; and breaking barriers to the perceptions of a female-dominated stage presence. The All-Female, Front Line Band, brings a unique style of entertainment through the eclectic sounds of funk, jazz, neo-soul, R&B, and rock. Commanding and captivating audiences while prompting them to dance to the dynamic sounds and beats of GoGo.
The Mint Condition Tribute Band
The Mint Condition Tribute Band is made up of a group of friends based out of the Durham and Raleigh area, who creates and covers different genres of music. With over 20 plus years of music artistry, individually they have played for or sang with major artists such as Faith Evans, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Rissi Palmer, and Ruth La'Ontra. Through every performance, MCTB proves that music is a part of life and should be shared around the world.
OnlyUs allows the independent artist to reign revolutionary. Based in the heart of Durham, North Carolina, the collective seeks to provide not only music but programming, workshops, and innovative events on a level that revolutionizes how artists traditionally create their path in their music and in their community. The collective, derived from the Afrofuturism makerspace Blackspace, seeks to empower through community building and community empowerment. With a robust roster of artists, OnlyUs seeks to change how the music industry prepares and promotes artists and their communities.
Having started singing at the early age of six years, Hezter Boi is a talented artist who makes country, pop, R&B, and inspirational music. His music is inspired by experiences that can motivate people and bring hope to their lives. As a little boy, Hezter would travel to places with his father in a car, and they both would sing together different songs, mostly old classics, and gospel music, throughout their ride. This is where his obsession with music started and never left. With his music, Hezter Boi paints inspirational stories that can help people overcome sadness and melancholy, and bring back joy and laughter in their lives.
African American Dance Ensemble
The African American Dance Ensemble’s mission is to preserve and share the finest traditions of African and African American dance and music through research, education, and entertainment. With the motto, “Peace, love, respect for everybody,” the Ensemble celebrates traditional African culture, aesthetics, and values as resources to encourage interracial cooperation and cross-cultural understanding. Toward this end, the Ensemble develops partnerships and collaborations with community programs and resources, conducts residencies and workshops in diverse settings, and offers apprenticeships with emerging performers to enhance their artistic skills and capacities.
40+ Double Dutch Club
The 40+ Double Dutch Club was started in 2015 by founder, Pamela Pelt Robinson based out of Chicago, IL – it began with a few women who came together to support a friend and has now ballooned to over 33k members across the United States as well as internationally, Israel, Germany, and Canada. It has become a movement and sisterhood for women 40 and up. They are women from all walks of life who come together for fun, fitness, friendship, and fellowship.