Marcel P. Black takes his participation in hip-hop, as a culture and as an art form, very seriously. So much so that the Oklahoma native and veteran Baton Rouge emcee promotes the mantra “#CultureOverEverything” in his role as a show organizer and as a preeminent artist in the city's underground rap community.
“Culture over everything is about believing in the transformative power of hip-hop as a culture, as lifestyle as well as an art form,” Black said. “I’m really big on intention, using hip-hop as a vehicle to educate, empower, uplift, entertain — and putting that before anything else.”
Black, an independent national touring artist, has been facilitating #CultureOverEverything hip-hop shows across the South throughout 2018 and will close out the year on Saturday with a show at Southside Arts Center. Black will perform with The Monastery, of Birmingham, Alabama; D. Horton, of Atlanta; and Baton Rouge's DQ Rogers. DJ Automatik will provide the music, and Michael Armstead will host.
Black traveled the country this year performing his distinct brand of conscious hip-hop music in new-to-him markets such as Oakland, California, and Chicago and revisiting favorite destinations like Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; and Dallas. For Black, a significant factor of crisscrossing the nation in the name of hip-hop is what he is able to bring back to his adopted hometown. He credits his experiences on the road with being able to strengthen the Baton Rouge scene by connecting his rap peers across geographic lines.
Marcel P. Black watched his life change overnight.
“One way it really helps from an artist standpoint is it allows you to see somebody else operating at a higher level to set a better standard for you,” Black said. “For me I think it’s important for artists who haven’t had the luxury of rapping outside of Baton Rouge to see bigger artists. Also it helps put the city on — if a bigger artist comes through the city while touring, they can stop and be like, ‘Yo, I went to Baton Rouge and them kids was killin' it.’ It gives the scene credibility.”
As an artist-facilitator, Black keeps a pay-it-forward mindset. It is a level of mentorship that was not afforded to him in his formative years as an emerging Baton Rouge rapper.
“When I was coming up I didn’t have it,” he said. “I never had a rap mentor. I had to go to the poetry readings to rap because there wasn’t a lot of places decidedly for hip-hop. I do it because there’s a need for it. People outside of Baton Rouge understand that Baton Rouge has a very interesting and different and peculiar story to tell, and not all of it sounds like Boosie and NBA Youngboy.”
Black wants to make sure there's a vibrant narrative around Baton Rouge independent hip-hop. He hosts a monthly showcase, Fade the Flow Sundays — in partnership with barber Michael "Solelab BR" Thomas — and a Hip Hop is Alive quarterly showcase organized by the BR Hip Hop Project.
At the seasoned hip-hop age of 35, Black is more infatuated with the culture than ever before.
“I love it more than I ever have because I’m engaged in it more,” he said. “I’ve done at least three projects about my love of hip-hop and now I’m engaged in it as a 35-year-old who has been a fan of the culture since 1989 and participating in the culture by way of writing since 1994.”
And what do attendees have to look forward to when attending a Marcel P. Black-curated underground hip-hop show in Baton Rouge? “Some of the best talent in the country," Black said, "bar for bar ... show for show ... performance for performance, we have just as good talent in the city of Baton Rouge as anywhere else in the country."
Featuring DQ Rogers, D. Horton, The Monastery and Marcel P. Black. Hosted by Michael Armstead. Music by DJ Automatik
Saturday, Dec. 15
8 p.m. doors; 9:15 p.m. show
Southside Arts Center, 524 N. Foster Drive