The Kings of the Iron Mic showcases are a staple at the Grog Shop, happening every three to four months. Nappyhead Entertainment — spearheaded by George Goins a.k.a. rapper Poohmanchu, along with cohorts Uncle Lyn, Mike Knowledge and Jules — started organizing the shows 10 years ago to feature multi-act lineups of local and regional rappers, MCs, street poets, spoken-word artists and R&B singers and to provide exposure to a scene that doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for live performance.
Kings will celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend with a show at the Grog Shop, starting at 9 p.m. Friday. Highlights of the lineup include champion battle rapper Tut, a native Chicagoan now living in Cleveland whose tracks are soaked in his Jamaican ancestry; veteran duo Muamin Collective — MC Zion and DJ Alive — proponents of jazzy, soulful hip-hop with intellectual lyrics; and D. Roof, who produces dense, chaotic, disorienting tracks. The bill also features Vigatron v. Ohm’s Law, All Power Experience, Eddie Hands, the Kidz, Marty Mkfly and seasoned local DJ KNow1. There’ll also be an Iron Mic MC battle. Tickets are $10.
Goins recalls that in the spring of 1999, when he started the series, “there wasn’t a ton of hip-hop stuff going on. I was in this band, Erie Division, and we put out a full-length CD. It was like, This would be a good opportunity to promote ourselves and other artists in a city going through the same thing we was. It would give local artists an outlet.”
Presented at the old Peabody’s DownUnder in the Flats, the first show drew about 400 people, says Goins, even though he admits he barely knew what he was doing. He learned, developing a following via heavy flyering and word of mouth. Now the shows have ended up semi-permanently at the Grog Shop, although he’s also done them at the Beachland, the Phantasy and even Pat’s in the Flats. And his network of artists has expanded so that he’s able to put new performers on each show, mixed in with the most impressive of the previous performers. —Anastasia Pantsios