Dunedin, a small city just north of Clearwater, Fla., may not seem like an epicenter for hip hop and graffiti art, yet that has failed to stop a group of passionate local artists and musicians from assembling every Monday night to combine these two art styles into a thriving, flourishing weekly experience.
The Dunedin Lyricist Society, started in a small, multi-purpose events room at the Dunedin House of Beer. Within a year, the weekly gathering outgrew its previous digs, and moved into the larger Blur Nightclub and Show Bar.
Promoter and co-host Jon Didier encourages performers to freestyle instead of reciting written material, with the exception of special “Show-and-Tell” nights, meaning that each rapper must come up with his or her own material on the fly. This helps up-and-coming MCs hone their rhyming skills and craft their stage presence. At the beginning of each session, Didier and co-host Andrew McComber lay ground rules, stressing one very important facet over all others.
“The goal of the night is to come intending to participate, not to shine,” said Didier.
Didier is one half of Dunedin hip-hop group Project Save C.A. Hircus. The other half is Derek Saballos, who DJ’s the night.
Didier, Saballos and McComber come up with different activities each week. One of these activities, “Own the Beat,” calls for each musician to freestyle for the duration of one beat, with each beat lasting around 3 minutes. Other activities throughout the night include “Word Surprise,” where MCs are given two words to create rhymes around, and “Four Bar Spar,” where two MCs engage in a friendly war-of-words, passing the microphone to and fro every four measures until the beat ends.
Enter Live Art
Out on Blur’s back patio, artist Dominic De La Rosa creates and hosts the live art portion of the night. He contacts and organizes artists each week to come out and create conceptualized pieces before the crowd.
“I grew up painting, so any chance I can get to make art, I’ll take it,” said De La Rosa.
At the end of each night, one artist is selected to have his or her art auctioned off to the highest bidder. Kyle Kripps, a recent featured artist at the DLS, realized he had a career as an artist at a young age, under slightly uncomfortable circumstances.
“I was stopped by a cop while creating graffiti art at 13,” said Kripps. “He brought me home to my mother, looked at her and said ‘you know…he’s pretty good.’ ”
The officer’s words stuck with Kripps, and he began making commissioned pieces at 16. He encourages young artists just getting their start to practice religiously and make an early commitment to art.
“The only way to make progress is to keep creating,” said Kripps.
Catch the artists and musicians of the Dunedin Lyricist Society every Monday from 9 p.m. -1 a.m. at the Blur Nightclub and Show Bar in Dunedin, Fla. For more information, visit Blur’s website by clicking here, or the Dunedin Lyricist Society’s Facebook page by clicking here.