Everybody Eats: Hip Hop Can Thrive in Denton
AV the Great has one of the most difficult jobs in show business. As on-air personality Chris Cole at K104 FM in Dallas, he has to resist the temptation of promoting and playing his own music in the mix.
The southeast Denton native has maintained the balance of two careers, the responsibilities of a 9-to-5 job, and the joys of fatherhood, all while cultivating a tremendous following in his hometown, and staying immersed in the local hip hop scene.
In 2009 he first linked up with Gas House Smitty for a track on his Trunk Pop Click series. They collaborated again on AV’s song "Crime Pays" from his project Live From The Struggle. Then they got busy and "life got in the way,” as they say, but it was inevitable that the two would work again in the future.
They continued to stay in contact and help each other out through the years, and in 2016 the two hit the studio to work, and it just clicked, according to AV. They recorded their current radio single "Bunkin'," which is getting national FM radio play. The song reveals the amazing chemistry between the two performers. They have an entire group album ready to drop as well.
On Friday, September 8, AV and Gashouse Smitty were brought together for a throwback jersey bash organized by Milla Da Mayor for AV's birthday. Instead of having opening acts, the mood was set by DJ Spinn Mo with "Mr. Crowd Pleaser" D-Mo hosting.
Around 10:00 p.m., there were 30 people listening to a seamless mix by DJ Spinn Mo with D-Mo working the mic. Over the next hour two peculiar things happened (didn't happen?). First, not one opening act performed. Instead, Spinn Mo was given the freedom to show why he’s everybody’s favorite DJ, commanding the party with an incredible spin set that had everybody dancing as the crowd flooded in. According to event organizer Milla Da Mayor’s Facebook, over 250 people showed up for the event. That's with no nationwide headliners and only two local acts.
Milla was excited for the amazing turnout, especially since some recent shows have pulled in anemic numbers. Local photographer Ed Stelle mentioned earlier in the week that more and more music venues continue to close in Denton.
Milla said, "It’s all about the organization of the event and who you’re working with.”
The idea of not having an opener works. In a society where promoters sell opening slots to artists to cover the fee from the headliner, openers seem to leave right after they perform with the crowd they bought. Since everyone was there to see AV and Smitty, the crowd only grew as the night progressed.
When AV the Great took the stage for his performance, Andy’s was shoulder-to-shoulder, standing room only as a sea of throwback jerseys filled the room. AV put on a killer show, although the live band he has performed with for larger shows was missed. Nevertheless, AV and Spinn Mo worked together like a well-oiled machine. If there is one word to describe AV’s set, it's "energy." Every song from L.O.D. (a collab with superproducer Timbaland’s Camp) to “Bunkin'” had both AV and the crowd jumping.
By the time Smitty took the stage, the place was insane. He was joined on stage by local entertainers Left Cheek and Right Cheek from the Lifetime series Little Women Dallas along with fellow artist J. Whoa. He performed "Bunkin'" with AV, then dove into his greatest hits. He put on one of the most entertaining performances seen in Denton thus far this year. At one point he told Spinn Mo, “Just pick a song, I'll rap anything.” Impressive in a time where so many artists rap over their vocal tracks to avoid forgetting lyrics. Smitty performed what seemed like a dozen or more songs spanning his entire career.
After Smitty’s set, Spinn Mo played out the night while the crowd filed out, leaving a few stragglers behind to mingle and dance until closing time came.
A few things to note on what made this show so great:
— Not having to sit through a sea of openers with their followers shuffling in and out.
— AV and Smitty’s onstage energy and chemistry.
— The organization and promotion of the event.
All of these things added up to an incredible night of hip hop in Denton, Texas. No fights, no drama — just an entertaining night of good music. Job well done to everyone involved, including the staff and security at Andy’s.
This is what a hip hop show is supposed to look like. Milla has a winning formula. Now if the rest of the town can learn from him and follow it, the scene will thrive again. But in the meantime, hip hop is alive and well in this small north Texas town. Milla, AV, and Smitty proved it.