When it comes to cultural influence, there’s arguably no force greater than hip-hop. But for many local lovers of the genre, finding a point of entry into the regional scene can be a challenge. And while there’s no shortage of creative folks making quality hip-hop music, opportunities for them to connect with fans via live shows are sparsely limited.
Enter The Pull Up, a new quarterly showcase featuring rising hip-hop acts, which will hold its second installment tonight at the Middle East. The event’s mission is to give artists who have a proven ability to develop audiences the chance to grow in front of a live audience.
After a sold-out first installment Upstairs in October, tonight’s The Pull Up event graduates to the larger Downstairs room, where it will feature Soundcloud sensations Rosewood Bape and Jefe Replay. While both musicians have sizable online followings with song streams in the hundreds of thousands, neither has headlined yet. This is exactly the sort of oversight The Pull Up is meant to remedy.
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The series is the brainchild of Boston hip-hop mainstays Marquis Neal and DJ Real P, aka Chimel Idiokitas.
“We wanted to try to change the platform of how hip-hop shows are being done in Boston,” says Neal, who notes that fewer local venues are booking hip-hop acts than in years past. Neal, who also serves as the technical director of NPR’s “Only A Game,” believes that there should be more opportunities for artists making great music to turn that quality into a profit through performing live.
“What we’re doing represents kids from Massachusetts, New England, who deserve to have a shot and who are actually doing the right things and should be on shows,” Neal says. “It creates another lane for artists to create some sort of revenue for themselves. We’re trying to empower the artists. We want the artists to treat themselves like artists,” he adds, noting that the practice of pay-for-play on stage appearances is a destructive one.
His partner, who DJs the series and makes music of his own, thinks the shows are also key to musicians’ evolution.
“We artists lose sight of the people at times and get in our creative bubble, and in turn the people lose sight of the artists,” says Idiokitas. “We wanted to create a forum where we can keep artists involved and also give the art back to the people through a dope experience.”
You may not have heard of performers Plad Finesse, Dutchy DoBad, Rosewood Bape and Jefe Replay, but the organizers hope they well be on track to bigger futures.
“You can expect a good mix of people — from age, to culture, to first timers, to show vets. The energy will definitely be on a 1,000,” says Idiokitas.
“There’s a lot of anticipation for a lot of these artists,” adds Neal. “[Audiences] want to see them be stars on the stage. They want to see them in their moment. Because these guys haven’t had the chance to have that moment yet.”
And creating moments is chief among Neal’s goals. “We’re not going to be able to do shows every month, but we be able to do one quarterly that matters.”
If you go
Jan. 25, 8 p.m.
The Middle East Downstairs
72-480 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge
$15 advance, $20 door, thepullup.splashthat.com