Hip-hop is a way of life, not just a genre of music, according to Ezra Brown and DJ Scrap Dirty, business partners at Seven*Studioz.
"It's the attitude—the cockiness—of being yourself," Brown elaborates. "It gives you the confidence to do anything. It's almost like your Superman patch."
For this reason, the duo have come together to promote hip-hop in Jackson. Hip-hop's pulse will be at Seven*Studioz, they believe. You might think: Seven has been around for a while, so why now? Seven has been around for about seven years now, but Friday night, Sept. 30, Seven*Studioz will celebrate a non-traditional grand opening.
It's the birth of Seven*Studioz, Brown explains, not the rebirth. "This is a new beginning," he says.
To commemorate the occasion, Young RJ, a producer, who was a protégé of Jay Dilla (1974-2006)—arguably one of the most phenomenal producers and emcees in the hip-hop game—will host the grand opening/tribute to Jay Dilla. The audience can expect the host to spin records and probably even spit a few lyrics that would make his mentor proud.
Young RJ is often listed among the who's who in hip-hop, particularly in the underground scene. How is it that he, the Detroit native, is finding his way to Jackson Friday?
Well, Scrap Dirty is another well-known name in hip-hop. As the head of management for deejays of Violator, a renowned record label in the industry, Scrap has access to many artists and producers. Additionally, he holds an annual National DJ Conference where some of the best and brightest deejays can be found.
"If the people want De La Soul, we'll get De La Soul," Scrap says of his intentions to bring national acts to Jackson. The objective of all of those who have a significant stake in Seven*Studioz is to get to the point that they're able to bring the likes of Erykah Badu here, says Scrap, "and not be embarrassed that (we) don't have a venue for her."
Since hip-hop is more than just music for these gentlemen, it only makes sense that Seven*Studioz is more than just a place to go hear music. Around the city, it's known by many as the place to hear spoken word. But it's more than that. It's a place that breathes art—all kinds of art, by all different types of people.
"This is an incubator," Brown says, referring to Seven*Studioz. Through all its facets, Seven*Studioz is "able to nourish and develop any artist who comes through here. (It was) built for artists … for people … for Jackson."
The studio's location on Millsaps Avenue, in an arts district, makes it easy for visitors to submerge themselves in an arts community that engenders artistic expression. Even when you step outside Seven*Studioz's walls, art is everywhere. In only one block, there are five art galleries. Brown says about the community, "It's a place where it's normal to be different."
If you're different, you'll fit right in on the avenue and with the Seven*Studioz crew. "We have a diverse crowd," Scrap says. "It's not just black folks. Spanish-speaking folks, white folks, everybody has the same goal here."
Brown follows up saying: "We're strongly known for our poetry—revolutionary poetry—but revolution ain't necessarily about black folks. It's about moving forward—breaking down barriers so we can get things accomplished."
This, they say, is what true hip-hop is all about. "Real hip-hop makes you fight for something …" Brown says, and DJ Scrap interjects, "And we're not talking about that gangsta stuff. … Knowing what hip-hop is, we're going to stick it out and bring it to Jackson," Scrap affirms.
Seven*Studioz seeks to provide an outlet for artists of all kinds, without financial support or sponsorships from any other entity. It's sustained by Brown, Scrap Dirty and the other visionaries who believe wholeheartedly that this city has so much to teach an artist and can serve as a launching pad to other things.
"Jackson has given me my identity. I owe that to Jackson. When I play at the Birdland, in New York, and I'm coming off the stage, the people already know 'grits and cornbread' is where I'm coming from," Brown, a saxophonist, who's probably one of the few musicians who can boast about having played with both Cassandra Wilson and David Banner, says in delight. "They can hear it in my sound. That's what sets (Jacksonian artists) apart."
Though they both travel extensively, Ezra Brown and DJ Scrap Dirty both always seem to find their way back to Jackson, back to Seven*Studioz, waiting for someone new—different—to walk through their doors. If it weren't for Ezra, Scrap admits that he wouldn't have been in Jackson as long as he has been, but he's here now, ready, just like his partner, to give back to Jackson what the city has given to them. After all, isn't that what hip-hop's all about?
Seven*Studioz (147 Millsaps Ave.) grand opening/tribute to Jay Dilla is Fri., Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. Visit their Web site at www.IAmSeven.com or myspace.com/sevenstudioz. Also, listen to a track from the All-Star DJs on this week's JFP Podcast
great article! can't wait for friday.
- c a webb