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Crafting rhymes and tags

Refining the look of local hip-hop

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Add another name to the Triangle hip-hop scene's list of labels. Nodcraft is a Durham-based group of MCs and DJs who hosts regular events throughout the area, with a particular affinity for the visual and aesthetic side of hip-hop culture.

On equal footing with the music-makers in their community are the writers, those graffiti artists tagging their name in bubbly, abstract constructs on walls, trains and other vessels of public art. Their work can be seen in some areas near downtown Durham, for instance, displaying a penchant for the style pioneered in New York in the mid to late '70s: bold letters and numbers, sometimes so colorful and cryptic the original name is indecipherable. Writers like Colon, Prime, and Nodcraft DJ Notik keep this tradition alive. Nodcraft's Tane Addington documents these works, called "benching trains," in the Durham area and elsewhere. He explains: "It is the thrill and adrenaline rush that make them artists in the first place. Graff in general has seen an increase in participants in the past couple of years but the heavies have been steady writing for decades. It is all about respect within the graff scene and respect takes many years to obtain." Look for a Nodcraft DVD with "footage of writers in action and hundreds of pieces along with (the label's) music and artist profiles."

On the music side of things, the Nodcraft folks are busy this summer. Notik's series of mix CDs compiles regional and national favorites among his own home-cooked beats.

Spitune records with three MCs, with Notik on production. Chapel Hill's Living Dead record via Nodcraft, pulling off ad hoc performances in club parking lots after major label hip-hop shows. Home base for all Nodcraft productions is their Durham studio. The collective has plans for a Southeastern tour later this year, a Spitune full-length album by early fall, and a compilation of Triangle-area underground MCs. Nodcraft also hosts shows regularly at The Library in Chapel Hill, with Breez Evahflowin on July 8 and a "Hillville" DJ Battle on July 14. Look for more on their Web site at www.nodcraft.com, where you can listen to cuts, gawk at a large graffiti gallery, and view a nice collection of classic cars. EndBlock

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