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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The “sunshine” of Baltimore’s Hip Hop scene


On a Saturday evening, after a fifteen minute walk from Johns Hopkins University on the corner of 30 W North Avenue, I arrived at my destination, Red Emma’s. This is not an ordinary bookstore or coffeehouse, but one of the few businesses in Baltimore that offers its space for community events. Inside, I find my seat and the night’s event begins, a panel conversation dubbed the Exchange Part 2.

As a New York native who recently moved to Baltimore, I had zero knowledge of anything related to the community. But the panel discussion I would hear that night gave me a whirlwind education on Baltimore’s thriving Hip Hop scene, with talks ranging from women in Hip Hop to the social significance of Hip Hop, and community contributions to uplift Baltimore. This is all thanks to the creator and organizer, Capri Sunshine.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Capri moved to Florida after high school for a brief period to attend college. She then left Florida and moved to New York for an internship opportunity. Her work experience focused on marketing and event planning. After her time in Florida and New York, she decided it was time for her to use the skills she had learned from her experiences and apply it to Baltimore, or as Capri likes to say, “Bring it back home.”

Capri contributes to the Hip Hop community is various ways. As I discovered at the panel, her attention is towards local artists, specifically rappers in Baltimore. She provides a free one to two hour consultation service for local rappers who want to create a fan base and further their career. The free consultation invites the artist to explain where he or she is currently and what his or her goals are for the future. Capri provides her advice by collecting the artist’s work. After Capri listens to the artist’s music, she breaks everything down, including her thoughts and opinions on his or her style, suggestions on what can be fixed or further developed, as well as what Capri can do for them. If an agreement is made, together they develop a strict agenda that involves brand strategizing, promoting, marketing and managing. Capri stresses that her consultations and service are not structured: “Everybody is in a different place musically and creatively.”

While Capri finds the time to provide consultations with up and coming rappers, her attention is split with planning and organizing shows around Baltimore city. When Capri moved back to Baltimore after her time in New York, she was confused as to why there weren’t any spaces in the area for young local artists and rappers to showcase their talent. Capri mentions, “In New York I could find fifty events a day.” Thus the Baltimore brand name #LocalsOnly was born.

Capri Sunshine describes the current Hip Hop scene to be in its “blooming state.” Capri believes that Baltimore will soon finally have its time of recognition as an area where Hip Hop is flourishing. This is in part due to some of the influences coming from different people who are moving to Baltimore, especially college students from different parts of the county.

While Capri Sunshine is excited about the progression and momentum occurring in the Baltimore Hip Hop community, she is aware of the challenges these local rappers are facing on a daily basis. According to Capri, guidance and community support are the fundamental tools that are lacking for local artists. These artists are “looking at a road-block where there’s nobody in Baltimore who has made it out, so they don’t know how to. They are no managers in Baltimore they can go to for advice on what to do, or there are no booking agents who are making themselves readily available to share what they know. Then, there are no DJs that are willing to break local records … [These artists] are dealing with people who are not doing their jobs, because they get a paycheck …they don’t care about nobody.” It’s an unfortunate truth that there are few resources for new artists to use in order to jump into the music industry, which is one of Capri’s many goals for the community, “That’s all I am trying to do, bring all of my resources back to Baltimore. That’s my mission.”

After 2012, the brand name #LocalsOnly was established around Baltimore with other organizations creating shows using that name, and Capri knew she didn’t need to focus heavily on creating more #LocalsOnly shows since the rest of the community was handling it. However, she started to notice on social media conversations mentioning Baltimore’s art community, Hip Hop, and Baltimore’s music in general. Although these topics were worthwhile to discuss, unfortunately these conversations hit a dead end each time. Capri believes it was due to the fact that, “the people didn’t have proper online etiquette when talking about these topics.” Thus her idea and new project was born, “to create something that would give us a platform for us to have healthy conversations about all of these topics. So I put together the first Hip Hop panel discussion.” The panel discussion was labeled as “The Exchange” and it was held at Red Emma’s. Due to the success of the first one, Capri organized another panel discussion, “The Exchange 2,” which is the one I was lucky enough to attend.

“… Next we have Capri! The lovely organizer of this event. Capri, was born and raised in Baltimore and is active in Hip Hop culture in and out of her hometown. Specializing in brand strategizing, marketing, and event planning. She has receive a majority of her skills working at Hot 97, Atlantic Records, and the legendary SOB in New York City…”

As I listened to Capri’s credentials, I thought of the community she is aspiring to elevate. It is people like Capri who are promoting a different type of Hip Hop not being widely recognized today through popular media outlets. Her mission to make Baltimore a place where the community can thrive through Hip Hop is a story that must be told.


Image courtesy of: / Kathleen Tyler Conklin

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The “sunshine” of Baltimore’s Hip Hop scene