Greensboro-based Diggin’ in the Crates celebrates hip-hop

GREENSBORO, NC (AP) — A treasure trove of hip-hop history fills a small office in a nondescript building along Battleground Avenue.

The walls were covered with scenes and memorabilia from the history of hip-hop culture and other music, such as a large painting by rapper The Notorious BIG.

From this office building at 1400 Battleground Ave., Ernest Hooker runs Diggin’ in the Crates Hip Hop Podcast, an umbrella organization that oversees several online podcasts and a new, separate black-owned performing arts space.

It takes its name from the practice of looking for music to sample by looking for second-hand vinyl albums stored in milk crates at record stores, flea markets or thrift stores.

Hooker and Terrance McAdoo — both full-time college professors — team up to air their “Hooker and Mac Show” podcast, usually every two weeks.

He can be found live on Instagram @hookerandmcadoo. Older shows can be found on the Diggin’ in the Crates Hip Hop Podcast YouTube channel.

Hooker provides space for other podcasts such as “Prime Time Sports” and “Balanced Behavior,” the latter in which husband and wife Xavier and Brooke Carrington talk about relationships.

In “Sample Saturdays,” a producer talks about sampler records, how to create a beat, and some favorite artists.

NC A&T students serve as interns, writing scripts and filming, editing and publishing podcasts online.

With this podcast studio and new performing arts space, Hooker wants to provide an affordable space for creatives to work on their craft.

“I hope it becomes a mark of podcasting and performance,” Hooker said. “I hope it would be an incubator for collaborative musical projects.”

Organizers want to educate the community on the fundamentals of hip-hop roots. They want to communicate and connect with young people to exert a positive influence.

Additionally, Hooker added, “It’s not about our organization. It’s about creating something that crosses cultural boundaries in Greensboro.

They also want to improve the scene for the city’s young hip-hop artists, said Yasmine Regester, who handles marketing and public relations for Diggin’ in the Crates.

“A lot of artists will say, especially young hip-hop artists, that they don’t feel like Greensboro is a place where they can grow up,” Regester said. “They feel like Greensboro isn’t on the map when it comes to hip-hop music…”

“The broader hip-hop community here, when we come together, it’s always like, ‘How can we help these artists? How can we give them some kind of support that they feel they don’t get, to give them want to stay, to make them feel like whatever you build in your career, you can build it here?” Regester said. “‘You can be successful before you go out into the world. don’t have to leave and become an Atlanta artist.

Hip-hop is more than rap, rhythmic and rhyming chanted speech. It’s fashion, design, arts and pop culture — and of course, music.

By most accounts, it started in the 70s and early 80s when block parties became popular in New York, especially among young African Americans in the Bronx.

It includes MC-ing, DJ-ing (which includes scratching with turntables), sampling beats or bass lines from records, break dancing, beatboxing, and graffiti writing.

Regester doesn’t see people doing freestyle as much. “And this art form is kind of dying,” she said.

“You can be a good writer,” she said, “but there’s something about being able to think on the spot and perform in front of people — a whole crowd or a whole room of people — that’s just amazing to watch.”

Nowadays, hip-hop has become “very explicit and very different,” Regester said.

Diggin’ in the Crates wants to open up the world of hip-hop to young people in a different way.

“We try to show it in a fun way, I guess, with a bit of education and community engagement and events,” she said.

“I know music is meant to evolve,” she added. “But at the same time, you still have to respect where he’s come from and how seriously people have taken the craft.”

By profession, Hooker teaches history at NC A&T.

He also loves hip-hop.

He met McAdoo in 2016, when they did a radio show on A&T station WNAA. Both were teaching at A&T at the time.

McAdoo had written his thesis on conscious hip-hop music, which addresses social issues.

“We clicked from there and decided we wanted to do something beyond what we had that day,” McAdoo said.

They decided to do their own show.

Hooker rented the space on Battleground Avenue. In 2018, he started decorating it.

He collected music memorabilia from garage sales, consignment stores, and the people who gave them away.

Xavier Carrington, a graphic designer, painted portraits of artists such as The Notorious BIG, Queen Latifah and Radio Raheem from the movie “Do the Right Thing”. Hooker found posters of stars such as Donna Summer and even the Beatles.

The space displays items such as record players and an eight-track player. They spent $5 on an old television and painted it.

“What’s really funny is that with the students, they’re all like, ‘What’s this? I’ve never seen eight tracks before. How do you work this? Said Regester.

In 2019, Hooker and McAdoo started streaming their podcast from there. They talk about social and political issues. They bring guests.

At the time, McAdoo was working as a response specialist at GTCC. He now teaches education at the University of South Carolina at Columbia. He comes up about every two weeks for the podcast and a visit with his parents.

Hooker’s vinyl album collection now numbers around 1,000 albums, not only hip-hop, but also country, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz.

On occasion, Hooker dons a purple cape and becomes his alter ego, Hip Hop Wizard. He could be found at a local record store, carrying a Walkman or a radio — “something vintage that represents music,” he said.

In 2020, they celebrated the first anniversary with musical performances and vendors outside nearby red cinemas.

In October, Diggin’ in the Crates Hip Hop Podcast expanded to a second space at 1300 Westover Terrace. Hooker leased part of the brick building from Kotis Properties as performance space.

Regester organized a rap cipher.

A cypher is a gathering of rappers, beat-boxers and/or breakers in a circle, making music together in an improvised manner. The circle can continue continuously, as long as the entertainers, beat-boxers, dancers and crowd keep it going.

The new space offers a stage, lights and sound. Not only does Regester hope it can be used for performances, but perhaps for a band that needs rehearsal space.

“I want to see musicians, people who play sax or drums,” she said. “I want to see groups of young people come in. We can definitely adapt something that’s age-appropriate so they can interact and have a good time with hip-hop and the arts.”

McAdoo says he likes the “Hooker and Mac Show”.

“Audiences are slowly growing,” McAdoo said.

He praises the bond Hooker has with young people, giving them a voice.

“One of the main things we wanted to do is not just us, but people in the community,” McAdoo said.

“Let’s connect with young people, give them space to come, do some hip-hop stuff and highlight some positive things they can take away from one of us in terms of life and wisdom,” said said McAdoo. . “Help them understand even though times may be tough, keep chasing your dreams, try to stay out of trouble as much as possible. And if this is a space that helps you be able to do that, then , of course, come here so you can do it.

During a fall “Hooker and Mac Show” podcast, Hooker spoke about A&T’s homecoming and the battle for Verzuz.

Verzuz is an American webcast created by record producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, airing on Verzuz TV. The series was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic as a virtual DJ battle, with Timbaland and Swizz Beatz going head-to-head in its first iteration via an Instagram Live broadcast in March 2020. Two musicians, primarily R&B and hip-hop, showcase their discographies in two 10-song rounds during a three-hour session.

A&T student Savion McClean handles podcast production.

McAdoo ends with words of wisdom.

“I saw something the other day that talked about obstacles,” he told his online audience.

“In life, if you focus on the obstacles, you miss the big picture,” McAdoo says. “Because those who stay focused on the goals don’t see things as obstacles. These are just obstacles that we have to overcome. So keep an eye on the prize and don’t worry about things getting in the way.

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