by Eric Tullis
On the Triangle's preeminent hip-hop message board, "The Lawn," local rapper/producer K-Hill recently voiced his opinion regarding the lack of coverage that I've been giving to North Carolina hip-hop in the music pages of the Independent Weekly. The comment stemmed from a thread announcing a show featuring local R&B songstress Keisha Shontelle. "Who the fuck is Keisha Shontelle?" I asked, jokingly. In essence, I was suggesting that, given Shontelle's relative disappearance from this music scene lately, I wasn't even sure if I remembered her anymore. But I did.
"Ask Grayson," K-Hill responded. "He actually writes about the other movements that reside in N.C. Take that one however you want to."
So, K-Hill, since I'm at liberty to take that one how I want, I'll take it as neglect on your part. Only in this case, your neglect is two-fold because, if you paid the slightest amount of attention to the Independent Weekly every week, you'd understand that Grayson Currin has mostly absolved himself of reporting on the "other (hip hop) movements in N.C.," sliding much of the hip-hop reporting responsibilities to me and a few others (Editor's note: This is true, though I did write about Shontelle and K-Hill in December).
But if you haven't seen your favorite NC rapper get the coverage that you think that you deserve, well ... that's probably a result of your neglect, too. From my standpoint, most of the hip-hop in the Triangle isn't even really worth my reporting, especially when all we have to write about is someone's "new," half-assed mixtape, repackaging songs that they've invariably been leaking for the past two years. It's either that or a poorly promoted local show with no real edge. That's not necessarily a story or a "movement," K-Hill. It's a gesture of ineptitude and in many ways, a result of laziness.
And that brings us to Keisha Shontelle, who, by now, could be just as successful as Yahzarah, Muhsinah, Stacy Epps or Tiombe Lockhart. But who knows what she has brewing over there in Wilson, N.C. or wherever she resides and records these days. What we do know is that you, K-Hill, work closely with her, co-sign her musical abilities, and keep the myth of her impending spectacular, new material alive. As with most rappers in this region, I simply ask, "Where is it?"
This isn't a "movement," K-Hill. This is comatose. If you've noticed that other "movements" receive more attention than others (and I'm assuming you're referring to The Foreign Exchange, 9th Wonder's various projects and Kooley High), it's because they've given us more than just intangible Internet clickage. They've been busy coming up with fresh ideas to present to national and international fanbases.
In your defense, though, K-Hill, I've written several brief pieces about you, play your material on a weekly hip-hop show on WXDU 88.7, and generally admire your ability as an emcee. However, I don't agree with your observation about the Indy's coverage of N.C. hip-hop. And aren't you're better off camping out in your studio and coming up with some new, exciting music and moves than complaining about how I don't write stories about you? I know who Keisha Shontelle is, man, and I know who she supposedly has in her corner. I just hope that they don't ruin whatever chances at success she has left.
You take that however you want.
P.S. I'm not sure if I grasp how savvy it is for you to label Keisha's most recent release a 3-song Maxi-single, which you did last week, but who knows? Maybe you're the prescient, marketing genius, and I'm the prejudiced pen-pusher that has seemingly lost all appreciation for the days of cassette tape terminology. Whatever the case, K-Hill, I'm glad you're finally getting this show on the road. Nice songs, by the way, Keisha.