Hip-hop music has been a part of music frontlines since the ’70s. Since then, the term “hip-hop” has been redefined in society over and over again. James “Earthworm” McEvoy, a local hip-hop artist, is taking his style back to the roots.
“I’ve been writing my whole life,” McEvoy said. “And just in the past two or three years, I started writing hip-hop poetry. And it just started from that, and then I was looking for beats and found a DJ.”
McEvoy said hip-hop is the best way to get a message out to an audience, comparing it to storytelling. He said his message for the last album he recorded is about people getting up and doing something with their lives.
“We have such potential as a community,” McEvoy said, “but no one seems to do (anything) about it.”
McEvoy said there is so much energy in the Ogden community and, whether negative or positive, people should create with it.
McEvoy isn’t the only hip-hop artist in Ogden and the surrounding cities, nor the only one who said he wants the rap/hip-hop scene to make its place in historic Ogden. Jorden Dougherty spent more than a year in the process of arranging a series of urban music and art shows called Soul and Color. He said he sees his shows as “urban art gallery” performances that people can attend to hear local hip-hop expressions and see some of the local urban art as well.
“I basically started it just ‘cause I was going up to Salt Lake to see all the good hip-hop shows,” Dougherty said, “and trying to sell my art at some of those shows. But it’s a little hard to travel up to Salt Lake every weekend to see a show. So I just started trying to put it together out here.”
So far, Dougherty has hosted four shows, the next one planned for the end of March, and plans to continue holding the Soul and Color shows every month.
“Basically, it is set up like half a show and half an art gallery,” McEvoy said. “So usually you walk in and the front is usually filled with five or six different artists, and they have T-shirts and painted skateboards.”
McEvoy’s brother shows and sells his own T-shirts that he designs with bleach patterns, making each of them one of a kind. Just like the handmade art, each show is a little different too.
“At the last show we did, we had like a graffiti wall,” McEvoy said. “So anybody who wanted to come in and spray on the wall could spray for free. He (Dougherty) brought like spray paint for everybody, just made everything readily available. It was kind of like an arts-and-crafts night with hip-hop.”
Although Dougherty’s original reason for starting the show was to bridge the gap between Salt Lake’s hip-hop scene and Ogden, he created a new movement as well. The hip-hop scene in Ogden is anything but visible, according to both Dougherty and McEvoy. However, once they created a venue, the scene came along too.
“It is crazy how, like, all of the sudden out of nowhere, I had 20 kids texting me, trying to perform,” Dougherty said.
Jazmine McKee, a Weber State University student who has attended a few of the Soul and Color shows, said they are a great and rare opportunity for people in Ogden to feel the energy of a good show, especially for underage people.
“It’s just a DJ trying to get the energy up,” McKee said, “and then the artist just expressing themselves through poetry. It’s like a hardcore poetry slam.”
McKee and McEvoy agreed that the Soul and Color shows also bring together different kinds of people. McEvoy said it is not just people who like hip-hop or art who come; the shows are an open space to showcase local talent.
“And he (Dougherty) wants to do it for everyone else,” McKee said. “It’s really selfless. And he doesn’t make any money from it, really. He just wants to help out people and do what he loves.”
McKee said that, although she thinks Dougherty is really talented in music, he mostly MCs and gets people ready for the artists performing.
“I’m not really trying to just make a bunch of money off of musicians and artists,” Dougherty said. “I’m really just trying to sell my own stuff and have a good show to watch.”
McEvoy said he sees the benefit of having the shows as giving people the opportunity to find out that hip-hop is more than what they hear on the radio.
“There are messages in there,” he said. “And words are just like any other instrument, and I think people didn’t really notice that.”
McEvoy said the Soul and Color shows also allow a wide range of styles and artists from different influences, or “veins.”
“The way he (Dougherty) does his show,” McEvoy said, “it’s not your average, typical show. That’s why I think people are really starting to like it.”
McKee said the Soul and Color show can give a better representation of the diverse music scene in Ogden to out-of-state students, who might come from a heavy influence of hip-hop.
“I think a lot of the kids that go to Weber would really dig it,” Dougherty said, “especially the music. When it comes to hip-hop, there’s no not getting into it.”
McEvoy said another big factor to having the show is inspiring people to write.
“Words can be so many different things,” McEvoy said. “Looseleaf could be a therapist.”