Sportsplex throbs to the beat as artists perform
By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- The hockey rink at the Sportsplex throbbed to the beat of more than 10 hip-hop performers Saturday, each one taking their turn on stage before a small audience that came looking for a good time and found it.
For teenagers like Trent Ross, 16, of Winchester, the show was an unusual opportunity to see a complete show more typical of those found in the nightclubs in Washington and Baltimore than in smaller cities. He was also attracted by two of the performers, Neff and Reign Cannons, both of whom happen to be his cousins.
"There's not too much to do on weekends around here besides go to each other's house and hanging out," Ross said. "An event like this you can hang out, have fun without worrying about getting into trouble."
Ross's mother, Angie, said her son, who still has a learner's permit, drove her to the show. She said she was "not a huge fan of hip-hop" but "we have to remember each generation has its own music that their parents didn't necessarily appreciate."
The comments by Ross and his mother would be music to the ears of Joshua Payne, 27, of Winchester, the show's organizer. Payne said the purpose was to give his community an entertaining evening that teenagers, young adults and parents could enjoy together. Admission was $10 but children under 10 were admitted free.
Payne, CEO of New Nation Entertainment in Winchester, said he organized the event "to give back" to the communities of Winchester, Frederick County and the rest of the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
Payne, who also holds jobs at a credit union and Radio Shack, said he had managed about half an hour of sleep over the 72 hours leading up to Saturday night's show. He said he had no regrets about the sparse turnout. Making money was not the goal; putting on a show that for one night would add to the entertainment mix in Winchester was what mattered most, he said.
Hip-hop music has stirred its share of controversy over the years with profanity-laced lyrics that are interpreted widely as extolling violence, rape and other criminal behavior. Payne said part of the intent of the show was to illustrate the music is more diverse and complex than its critics think.
"I want to make a statement that the artists, no matter who they are, they want to do clean material, they want to give back to the community and are here to actually help enhance the community for performance purposes," he said.
"A lot of times, the artists are misconstrued in the sense that if they're artists, it's hip-hop, they have to curse in their lyrics and that's not necessarily true," he added. "R and B, pop, whatever style it is, can be done professionally, done cleanly, it can allow you to give back to the community so the kids, whether they're 6, 7 years old or 10, 12, 15, 20 years old, they can all go out, and they can actually have fun."
A-Nice traveled from Ashburn to Winchester to perform at the urging of Neff, who lives in Leesburg.
A-Nice said he specializes in "old school hip-hop, krunk and rap," all of which would be rendered suitable for a family audience on this night.
"There's a lot of positive rappers out there," A-Nice said, citing Common among several examples. "Those types of artists get overlooked.
"Nowadays, the media, they're pushing a lot of negative music, disgracing women, violence, but that's not the only kind of music being played. There's a lot of conscious artists, and I'm one of them, for example.
"The media has got a bad taste for what we do because of what's being promoted. "It's more diverse, but what they're playing now is all the negative stuff."