First-time spitters, veteran MCs and local singers are coming together to put a rhyme night in the limelight.
Southeast Rap Inferno is bringing together about a dozen performers from Juneau and Hoonah for a night focused on rap and hip-hop that will be different from the rock and folk shows that are more common in the capital city.
“So many people are coming out of the woodwork,” said Lance Mitchell of Alaska Local Music Radio, who is organizing the show and will also perform. “I think that Juneau is going to be a music hub in the next few years in various music disciplines. I think it’s just a matter of time. There’s going to be an explosion here, people are going to be coming here. There’s just so much talent.”
While that might be in Juneau’s future, rappers said it’s not exactly Juneau’s present, and they’re pretty happy to get a chance to perform the music they love.
“I’m from New Orleans, and I moved up here about 13 years ago,” said veteran perform LaTroy Burras, 40, in an interview with the Capital City Weekly. “I think down there I had two or three shows a week. Up here it’s, ‘Oh, I think I can put something together every eight months.’”
“Any time you can get together and display your craft, it’s a beautiful thing,” he added.
Burras is a Christian rapper who performs under the name ODYC —pronounced odyssey — who has been rapping for the better part of two decades and is slated to spend some time on the mic Friday.
“I grew up in the church, and I felt just called to spread the word of God,” Burras said. “I always wanted to sing, but I can’t sing. I liked rap, and thought I could put some words to a beat. I just truly enjoy spreading the gospel in this way.”
While he’s still rapping about his faith, Burras said time has mellowed his message.
“When I was younger, it was mostly judgmental,” Burras said of his lyrics. “Now, it’s this is me. I’m going through the same struggles as the next man. I’m not damning anyone to hell anymore. It’s like, this is just how I’m getting through. I’m just letting people know it’s pretty cool when you don’t have to lean on your own self. You can lean on this bigger person.”
Another long-time MC set to perform will be a familiar name to Southeast Alaska rap fans.
Elton Willard, aka Big E, is traveling from Hoonah for the show. He’s part of the Southeast rap collective, Northkut Crew, formerly known as the Wolfpack, and is excited to perform.
“We do rap about the Alaska lifestyle,” Willard said. “It’s a lot different than most. It’s definitely an Alaska style. We rap a lot of hunting and fishing, not the partying and smoking and what not.”
Willard said his crew will perform an hour-long set.
“We’ve got songs for days,” he said. “We could perform all night if we wanted to, but we want to let some other acts get some shine.”
First-time performer Justen Samuels will be making the trip from Hoonah with Willard, and said he’s ready to fill the role of hypeman or ad-lib man even if he’s got some anxiety about his first public set.
“I’m the type of person who likes to try new things,” Samuels said.
Pairing experienced performers with genre newcomers is a common theme in the show. That extends to singers, like newcomer Eliza Valentine, who will perform during the show.
“It’s been a real thrilling experience,” Valentine said. “There’s really no words to describe it.”
Jeneveva Vida Morris, who has been writing poetry and singing for years but only took to rap within the past two years, will be another fledgling rapper preforming.
Since Morris is a relative newcomer to rap, her performance will be a collaboration with Chris Tally, who performs as RPO, and singer Alyssa Fischer.
“I won’t be doing anything solo just yet,” Morris said. “It’s kind of dipping my toes a little bit.”
Morris said she’s excited there’s an avenue for her and fellow performers to show off what they can do and is pleasantly surprised there were enough local performers to make the show happen.
“I am aware of some of the musical talent in the town because of some friends that I have, but I am impressed that there’s so much more I wasn’t aware of,” she said. “To put on a full show for it has really shown me how much is here and how much I can learn from it. It’s like going to school for the first time. I know what I’m going wear, I know what I’m going to say, and you go up there, and it’s like, ‘Oh, man, there’s more people like that out there.’”
Know & Go
What: Southeast Rap Inferno
When: 10 p.m., April 5
Admission: There is no cover charge
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.