HomeWorld NewsTallahassee hip hop concert draws thousands, even without T-Pain – Tallahassee Democrat
Tallahassee hip hop concert draws thousands, even without T-Pain – Tallahassee Democrat
November 11, 2023
A music event with a mission was accomplished in the capital city Friday night as two nationally acclaimed rap music innovators took center stage at the Adderley Amphitheater at Cascades Park. But the purpose of the event was symbolized at the outset when four young boys performed original raps about the impact of persistent gun violence in the city.
Damari Johnson, a 13-year-old Tallahassee student at Griffin Middle School, was among the four winners of a teen rap competition billed as a key element of the “50 Years of Hip Hop Celebration Concert,” sponsored by the North Florida Community Development Corporation.
Johnson told the Democrat he loves to rap and knew he would win the contest.
“I loved creating a positive rap song,” said Johnson wearing a grey sweatsuit. “I wasn’t surprised that I won because I was confident the whole time. I think it’s nice to have something like this for kids.”
According to Johnson, the theme of his message was about confidence and being successful in the future.
“We wanted to encourage our youth to rap about positive things,” Darius “Doc D” Baker, founder and music director of Tallahassee Nights Live, told the crowd. “There were four winners that won the rap battle to win a cash prize.”
The rap battle took place Thursday at the Tallahassee Nights Live Performing Arts Foundation, 1533 S Monroe St. The winners were picked and were able to perform Friday night on stage.
Each winner was presented with a $250 check for their achievement. The other 15 contestants were also given $50 each for participating.
A many as 3,000 show up even as T-Pain doesn’t
The crowd was estimated at between 2,500 to 3,000 at its peak by Tallahassee police officers in attendance. The entertainment bill featured rappers MC Lyte and Doug E. Fresh with energetic performances by the Marching 100 of Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Nights Live.
Tallahassee-born rapper, producer and entertainer T-Pain also was also honored in absentia.
Up until the day before the concert, the Grammy-award winning artist was expected to be on stage in a non-performing role. However, organizers announced late Thursday night that he had pulled out after reportedly feeling disrespected by Leon County Commissioner Christian Caban’s comments at a public meeting about him not being a proper role model for Tallahassee’s youth.
A representative for T-Pain did not respond to a request for comment and the rapper, singer, songwriter and producer has not directly commented on his absence.
But the love for T-Pain was clear by many in attendance as the Tallahassee Nights Live band paid a tribute to T-Pain.
Twenty minutes into the program, Jasmine Smith, principal of Oak Ridge Elementary School, where T-Pain attended school, introduced five fifth graders who recited a poem in honor of the entertainer and of Ridge Road, the southside neighborhood where he lived with his parents as a youngster.
“Ridge Road” was the title of one of the songs T-Pain included on his album “Rappa Ternt Sanga”
The North Florida Community Development Corporation donated $250 to school representatives for taking part in the event. The city and county also contributed funds and in-kind services for the successful concert.
“T-Pain, if you are watching this, you are a role model,” Tallahassee City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said, as local elected officials were recognized on stage. “You are showing us how to be successful no matter where we come from.”
‘A very positive atmosphere’
Other electrifying performances on stage ahead of the billed acts were by the high-stepping Omega Lamplighters, a youth leadership group for young men.
The youth segment ended by 7 p.m. only to have the crowd treated to a surprise appearance by the Marching 100. Band members marched in from different entrances, levitating the liveliness of everyone in the amphitheater.
The atmosphere throughout the event was fueled by a positive vibe that permeated not only from those sitting on blankets on the hill overlooking the stage, but also those with front-row seats and support staff backstage.
Local celebrity DJ DEMP got the crowd revved up with his selection of hip hop songs such as “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Slick Rick’s “The Ruler” boosting the energy level in the amphitheater.
Friends Alicia McBurrow and Timica Fowler both said they were having the time of their lives and were impressed by the promoters’ ability to stage such an event that brought the community together.
“The music has been a vibe and I like that security is heavy here,” McBurrow, who works at the Florida Department of Health, told the Tallahassee Democrat.
“It is a very positive atmosphere out here celebrating 50 years of hip hop,” added Fowler, a Tallahassee resident.
Everyone stood as MC Lyte entered the stage and performed her many hits such as “I Wanna Be Down Remix” and “Paper Thin.”
Doug E. Fresh, who took the stage following a second Marching 100 appearance, also was greeted enthusiastically.
Tiffany Persall and her husband, Charlie Persall, of Tallahassee attended the concert for a “date night” venture.
“There’s nothing but positivity here,” Tiffany said. “Being here with my husband after being at the fair with my child all day is my favorite part of the event. I can finally unwind.”
Laurise Thomas, executive director of North Florida Community Development Corporation and event organizer, said she is grateful for the community’s support.
“I feel really good about the turnout,” Thomas told the Tallahassee Democrat. “Despite T-Pain not being here, the people still came out and supported. When we found out last night that he wasn’t coming, it was hard, but we continued to honor him and I’m so happy with this event.”