The Prhymemates collective is dedicated to establishing and nurturing the hip-hop culture

In the summer of 2002, hip-hop shows were almost nonexistent in SA. Venues repeatedly booked the same local acts, and anyone who attempted to book national shows routinely encountered negative

click to enlarge music-prhymemates-02_330jpg
Seated (from left) - Scuba, Daecos, Cros, a random Houstonian, and Supher. Standing (from left) - Ruby, Loser, Praey, Dave X, Soup, and Cien 63. Members not pictured are - 71, Louie $, MiC Dagger, Jusdis, Cabs, and Wes 151. Photo by Alicia Wagner Calzada.
attitudes from club owners who considered hip-hop artists and their audiences to be disrespectful. An isolated outburst of violence that occurred several years ago at a Sunset Station hip-hop show didn't help matters.

Even hip-hop events that ran smoothly were given a negative spin by the local media, including television coverage of the Clogged Caps aerosol art festival, an annual event that celebrates the evolution and innovations of a growing graffiti culture. Following the success of the first Clogged Caps in 2001, a local news station filmed footage of the artists during the second annual festival. But instead of using the footage in its proper context - as proposed - the station featured the film months later to spotlight the increasing threat of illegal graffiti in the city.

"Focus on the positive," say Balser, Esquivel, and Pearl, who were inspired to form the Prhymemates, a San Antonio-based artist collective that in nine months has revitalized the local hip-hop scene. Eager to affect change, the three invited DJs, MCs, aerosol artists, break dancers, and hip-hop enthusiasts to an open meeting, addressing the stigmatization of the culture. More than 50 people answered the call, expressing the same hopes and frustrations concerning the SA hip-hop scene. From this open forum, the Prhymemates was born, a collaborative organization dedicated to establishing and nurturing hip-hop culture on both local and national levels.

The Prhymemates has organized and sponsored nearly two dozen successful shows since the organization's inception. Members have collaborated with hip-hop collectives in other Texas cities, bringing in national acts, and repeatedly proving that hip-hop shows can

Friday, April 25
224-9600 (Ticketmaster)
Sunset Station Saloon
1174 E. Commerce
attract large audiences without trouble or violence. Yet, the prevailing attitude among many live music venues is that hip-hop shows spell trouble.

A recent Sin 13 gig, however, shows what the Prhymemates can accomplish: "They just weren't buying into it because they knew it was going to be huge," says Balser, referring to the early concerns of the Sin 13 management, who were reluctant to book the nationally renowned, NYC-based artist MC Paul Barman. The Prhymemates persisted, Sin 13 gave them the space, and more than 200 hip-hop enthusiasts attended the event - without a problem.

Balser attributes the Prhymemates' success to the fact that it is run democratically. Even though he, his partners, and the MC crew Krionix essentially serve as the "board" of the fledgling organization, every member is involved in decision making, from determining which acts to accept as members, which shows to promote, and how to handle the finances (all of which go to the artists or back into the organization). Some artists and enthusiasts have even been denied membership into the organization based on their negative attitudes or unwillingness to work together as part of the team.

The response to the group's efforts has been consistently positive, and in what may be the biggest compliment, several other promoters have come out in recent months trying to match the Prhymemates' early accomplishments. "We see it as healthy competition," Balser says. "San Antonio has a very respectable art and music scene, and now there is consistency in the product we are putting out there."

Always focusing on the positive, the Prhymemates continue to work toward revamping the negative associations with hip-hop culture. "We have the potential to become a driving force in the Texas hip-hop scene," says Balser, before joining his fellow DJs in setting up the stage at the Lounge for what he hopes will be yet another successful show. •

More by Jason Gossard



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