Local Music Music News and Interviews

DJ Iron Mic sat down with Raleigh rapper King Mez for an interview about local rap, gentrification, and inspiration.

Listen here.

Music News and Interviews

NC Strong at the BET Cyphers

The BET Cyphers haven’t been the same since Kendrick Lamar burned them down in 2013. Seriously, there should have been a charity event for the families of all the rappers killed at once that night (we will never forget *praying hands*). But if you watched the Cyphers on Tuesday night, you might have noticed a very bold statement made. It was subtle, but important, especially if you were watching in North Carolina.

The North Clack was well represented this year, with impressive performances by Jackie Spade from Kinston, Rain910 from Fayetteville, T-Top of Fuquay-Varina, and Raleigh’s own King Mez. Unless you’ve only been paying attention to Drake for the past year, you know that the North Carolina Hip Hop scene has been on the rise. T-Top has been making waves on BET’s Ultimate Rap League, dismantling MCs in the battle circuit; and King Mez was heavily featured on Dr. Dre’s latest album “Compton.”

The Cyphers don’t have a good track record for creating stars individually, but the fact that the state was represented so extensively, shows that NC’s strength in the game is finally being appropriately recognized.

Check out this year’s Cyphers here:

Concert Review

High energy Kooley High show a success

There are about 465 words I’ll use to describe the energy at the Kooley High CD Release party this past Saturday night at The Pour House.  Not only did Lazurus, Actual Proof, King Mez, and Kooley High deliver, they all captured the crowd’s attention throughout the entire show.  Each set was quick, to the point and fun – something I often miss at an indie rock show.

I arrived at The Pour House around ten to find a healthy throng of people smoking their last cigarettes before the show started.  King Mez was standing outside and hyped up the show by telling us how pumped he was for it tonight.  Just seeing his energy got me excited to see what would happen inside.  Lazurus took to the stage right on time.  This guy is a super hyped-up MC that had me laughing and throwing my hands back and forth with the crowd.  He started his set with some a cappella rhymes and then brought out the beats for about thirty minutes.  He wrapped up his set with a gift for the fans– T-shirts and albums.  Luckily, I managed to snag an album.


Actual Proof set up shop next.  These two young guys from Raleigh’s own Enloe High School killed it on stage.  Not only did they look fresh, but they sounded smart, fast, and just plain good.

In between sets I had to fight my way back to the bar to refill my drink.  That’s a good thing when it comes to local music shows.  All kinds of people were coming together for this show and everyone was pushing for a place near the stage.

I made my way up to the second story to capture the energy of King Mez.  The picture below captures the best point of the night in my opinion.  Everyone watched as the rapper performed solo.  I loved his introductions to his producers and shout outs to his friends.  His personality shone through his entire set.

Lastly, Kooley High performed against the festive decor surrounding the stage. Female emcee Rhapsody put the Christmas lights to shame in her performance with fellow group members Charlie Smarts and Tab One.  The group was celebrating the release of their new album “Kooley High Presents… David Thompson” which is available digitally here.  Kooley High has a lot to celebrate, including the success of their show.  They got at least one new fan who walked away from the venue still humming their beats in my head.

Concert Preview

Kooley High celebrates release of new album at The Pour House

David Thompson is an N.C. State basketball legend. He led the Wolfpack to its first NCAA championship in 1974, and he graces the cover of Raleigh-based Kooley High’s newest album, Kooley High Presents… David Thompson.  This Saturday, Dec. 10, hip-hop enthusiasts will celebrate the release of this new album with a CD release party at The Pour House in downtown Raleigh featuring Kooley High, King Mez, Actual Proof, and Lazurus.  The show is 21+ and doors open at 9 p.m.

I’m what you might call a hip-hop novice. I set my Pandora to Mos Def and I’m good for hours. Kooley High Presents… David Thompson is definitely helping me branch out into the genre.  The group of former NCSU students layers funky beats and clever rhymes to create a sound that I’m not quite used to, but I’m definitely into.  I’m especially a fan of track six, a special anthem titled “Dear Raleigh” that actually makes me feel attached to the red-brick ocean that is NCSU.  New Raleigh blog agrees that Kooley High does Raleigh justice.

Adam Kincaid will host the group on The Local Beat tonight from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. I’m hoping to get a glimpse into Kooley High’s inspiration, their reasoning behind the iconic album cover, and hear more about their upcoming show.

Luckily for you (and me), I will be attending Saturday’s show and reporting back on Monday, Dec. 12.  Come back to the blog to read about my experience with four of Raleigh’s best hip hop artists.

DJ Highlights

Local Beat preview 9/2/11

Friday, Sept. 2 on “The Local Beat” is the first live program since July and it is jammed full of some amazing guests.

Last year we had Independent Weekly Music Editor and Hopscotch Music Festival Curator  Grayson Currin on the program for a full three hours to talk about the first ever Hopscotch. This year we toned it down a bit and Grayson, along with Hopscotch Marketing Director Greg Lowenhagen are coming in for one hour from 5-6 p.m. Join us as we chat about this year’s festival from the eyes of the men behind it.

At 6 p.m. local hip-hop act Kooley High is dropping in for the first time in quite awhile. The group is playing at Kings Barcade with King Mez, HaLo, and Drique London. The show is all ages and cost $1, with the starting time planned for around 10 p.m. I’ll be catching up with Kooley High and talking hip-hop.

The final hour of the show will belong to Hunter MacDermut, aka The Tourist, who is releasing a brand new 12 track album Sept. 3 at Marsh Woodwinds in Raleigh. Scott Phillips (of Goner, Monologue Bombs, and about 20 other local bands) will be opening and the show at 8 p.m. Hunter and I are going to talk about the new album and the show and spin some tracks off of it.

As always “The Local Beat” starts at 5 p.m. and runs through 8 p.m. every Friday evening on WKNC. Listen live here and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and ReverbNation!

New Album Review

Double Barrel Benefit #8 Compilation CD

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week 2/8/11, written by DJ Switch, WKNC deejay

You never think your kid’s ugly. Well, at least you never tell your kid you think they’re ugly. My parents never did. They did say I have a face for radio, but I never quite got what that meant. Either way, there’s no need to lie about the beauty of WKNC’s Double Barrel Benefit compilation, because even though the student radio station put it together, it’s a handsome piece of local music by all objective accounts. Recorded mostly in Caldwell Hall, this album was passed out to the crowd at 88.1’s annual benefit concert as they watched those very same bands bring down the house.

Showing the diversity of Raleigh’s music scene right off the bat is rapper Inflowential’s “Wherever.” It has a cheerful rhythm that reminds of Sugar Ray. As soon as you’re swaying to that, he slips in nonchalantly and starts commanding a pitter-patter of rhymes. Inflowential has an easy mastery of words like Nas or Jay Z, but with none of the intimidating lyrics.

Kid Future has some seriously artful song lyrics, such as “you were born with no blood, wind in your veins,” and the Old Ceremony has that simple beauty that you used to only be able to find in Bob Dylan or James Taylor songs.

Luego are students of the Guthrie school of folk rock, but, like Blitzen Trapper, they bring their modern indie rock sensibilities to give it a modern twist. Don’t let the song title fool you, “California” is an ode to the good old North State, done right by a group of native musicians with true Carolina accents.

Cassis Orange easily became one of my new favorite bands with their contribution, “May, June, July.” Now, normally I don’t like dance music. I think this aversion stems from a childhood of getting rejected by girls at the middle school dances – and an adulthood of getting rejected by some of those same girls at college parties – but this track made me forget all that entirely. It’s sort of like a mellowed-out Madonna, but not so dancey that it loses its beautiful, trippy melody and its mature songwriting.

Yardwork makes order out of chaos with “Hot Balloons.” The guitar solos seem to climb around the impassioned vocals like ivy, wrapping over the pounding snares in an effort to quell this eminent crescendo of emotion. Bright Young Things is a sort of happy hodgepodge resembling something like Kula Shaker or maybe even an experimental-era Beatles.

Like their name, Hammer No More the Fingers is something both indescribable and obvious. You can’t pin down exactly what it is that works for this band, but you know that it works— and “Blanko Basnet” definitely works. The vocals are some of the most unique I’ve ever heard. They have a slight adolescent twill, but still retain the power and resonance to howl above the rich intensity of the song.

No lie, this compilation is beautiful. Me, on the other hand—that might be another story.

88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published in every Friday in the print edition of Technician, as well as online at and

Concert Preview

Lineup for Night Two of Double Barrel Benefit 8!

Night two of Double Barrel Benefit 8 features Kid Future, HaLo, King Mez, Yardwork and Hammer No More the Fingers.

Kid Future
(Kieran Moreira, WKNC Program Director)
Kid Future could possibly be one of Raleigh’s best kept secrets. The indie band maintains a low profile online only featuring one of their recorded tracks. However, it can only be a matter of time before their talent betrays their anonymity. After catching them at a packed Slims Downtown in July and seeing them perform at Hopscotch in front of Raleigh Times, it’s clear that Kid Future has a knack for mesmerizing audiences. What’s to be expected from their performance? Dreamy synth sounds mixed with frontman Bryan Costello’s moody voice creates a recipe that is very reminiscent of the National and the Killers.

(Tommy Anderson, WKNC General Manager)
Ahem, that’s “hah-low,” or “Mr. Ben Ready” to you, good sir.  This guy is witty, upbeat, and dare I say funky hip hop out of Raleigh. HaLo is connected with 9th Wonder, and he appears on Kooley High’s much acclaimed recent album Eastern Standard Time. This gentleman has already developed a name in the area and beyond (he’s also got one Local Beer Local Band under his belt.) Request his stuff on WKNC during Local Lunch and Underground. Fantastic stuff.

King Mez
(Tommy Anderson, WKNC General Manager)
What can you say? If you were fortunate enough to catch any of King Mez’s performances in the area (or elsewhere), you know what an energetic, committed show he is able to put on. Street-wise lyrics, lush beats (provided by Commissioner Gordon on his most recent release “The Parapalegics” ), and a style that is all his own, King Mez is unforgettable and singularly compelling. As with HaLo, request this during Local Lunch as well as Underground. We’re very very excited to have King Mez on board making night two that much more of a treat for anyone lucky enough to get a ticket.

(Nicole Kligerman, WKNC Local Music Director)
Hailing from Charlotte, NC, Yardwork is described as playing “South Eastern Minimalist Pop/Prog.“ No matter what you call this band’s music, it is awesome, and those who have seen this band live know that this will not be a show to miss. Complete with a large and eclectic cast skilled in multiple instruments, this group puts on a kaleidoscopic show that will entertain your eyes as well as your ears. Usually working with two simultaneous percussionists, the sound is so rich and deep that you’ll find a completely new array to look for in each song.

There isn’t a lot known about Yardwork, and the biography on the band’s Myspace is a story including feral, mutant school teachers and PV rays. Whatever the history of the band, the music they play is bad ass and great for jumping around.

Their Local Beer Local Band performance in 2010 was barely contained by the stage. The larger space at Kings should be a perfect opportunity for this helter-skelter outfit to unleash their full furry upon downtown Raleigh. I saw Yardwork for the first time at last years TRKfest and am so psyched for another chance to see the live energy at this years’ Double Barrel Benefit 8.

Hammer No More the Fingers
(Kieran Moreira, WKNC Program Director)
Possibly the coolest name for a band, Hammer No More The Fingers, hailing from Durham, are local heavy hitters with a UK tour under their belt. They’ve graced WKNC’s airwaves since 2007, so it’s only natural that they take their place as Double Barrel Benefit night two headliners. Looking For Bruce, which released in 2009, cemented the band’s success meshing a blend of quirkiness, mid-twenties male humor, rock, and pop. What’s to be expected from HNMTF at Double Barrel Benefit 8? Raw energy. Although a lot of indie artists delve into bubbly pop sounds, HNMTF tries to remain edgier and grittier with sharp guitar licks and soaring vocals. We are very excited to have these fellas on board as headliners.

Concert Preview Local Music

Local Band Local Beer November 4

Thursday, November 4—Local Band Local Beer!

A Listening party for Freedom Suite, a new album from The Beast and Nnenna Freelon, featuring performances from The Beast, King Mez, Carlitta Durand, Brody & Choch, and a special turntablism, live drums, and sampling set from producers The Apple Juice Kid and Zakee who have worked with M.I.A., Wale (pronounced Wal-lay), and Rye Rye.

The Beast will headline this show and special guests include:

Producers The Apple Juice Kid (has worked w/ Wale, Camp Lo) and Zakee (has worked w/ M.I.A., Rye Rye) will be performing a collaborative set featuring turntablism, live percussion, and sampling.

The show is FREE. Ages 21 and up. Starts at 10pm.

Concert Preview

Design Council Halloween Bash sure to entertain

The NCSU College of Design has a lot going for it: the prettiest slice of campus, convenient juxtaposition with Pullen Park and the railroad tracks, the coolest bikes, an awesome-looking dean…and the list continues.  In short, the cool place to be is rarely far from Brooks Hall.  This Saturday (October 24th) will be no exception, as the Design Council will be throwing their annual Halloween Bash.

This year’s shindig features treats from different poles of the local music spectrum: the always-charming, Dylan-scented indie troubadours Lonnie Walker, the exceedingly talented hip-hop monarch King Mez, as well as  DJs The Biters and Holygrailers.

Tickets are ten bucks; full event info is available here!

DJ Highlights

Local Beat preview 10/15/10

Band website builder


This coming Friday on the Local Beat will be another fantastic evening as I will be joined by several different guests.

5 p.m. brings in one of my favorite groups in the area, Carrboro folksters Mandolin Orange, coming on to promote an upcoming show at the Local 506. The show is this Saturday, October 16, with Greg Humphreys. It should make for a fascinating concert on Saturday but also some great conversation and live radio Friday evening.

Check out the interview I had with Emily and Andrew of Mandolin Orange back in April:
Mandolin Orange on the Local Beat 4/9/10

And I also interview Greg Humphreys recently as well:
Greg Humphreys on the Local Beat 10/1/10

At 6 p.m., Gray Young is coming back on the show once again to talk about their brand new album. If you recall the group came in back in early August before the album was ready to be released. Staysail is going to be released on October 23 at the Pour House, and we will talk about that in full.

For the final hour of the show, local hip-hop star King Mez is dropping by with ex DJ Big Fat Sac and several other representatives of the Cooke Street Carnival that is being held this Saturday on Cooke Street in downtown Raleigh. We will be talking about the festival and catching up with the King.