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Gabe's lets amateur rappers test their hip-hop skills

BY EVAN CLARK | DECEMBER 14, 2010 7:10 AM

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As Eminem stared in the mirror in the film 8 Mile, his palms sweaty and arms heavy while the crowd waited eagerly to hear him rap battle, he realized this was his one shot and he needed to "lose himself in the moment."

But while Iowa City isn't necessarily Detroit, there are many like B-Rabbit around here who are simply searching for a place to get started, which is something Hip-Hop Tuesdays organizer Lindberg Chambliss has recognized.

"The hip-hop scene in Iowa City is huge," Chambliss said. "Every rap concert that goes through here gets sold out, so it's no secret that people here take their rap seriously. But it seems like the local hip-hop scene in Iowa City doesn't have a place to go, so I figured that by hosting Hip-Hop Tuesdays here, any local artists could call it home."

Hip-Hop Tuesdays occurs every Tuesday at Gabe's, 330 E. Washington St., starting at 9 p.m. with free admission. Chambliss encourages all local rappers to come out and test their skills, and he is also interested in getting different styles and subgenres of hip-hop.

"We're not going to limit Hip-Hop Tuesdays to just rapping," Chambliss said. "Anyone who wishes to perform spoken-word poems, slam poetry, or any other expression of lyrics is welcome, too. But for any aspiring rappers who want to come in and test their own original material, this is the perfect place to get started."

Anne Ventullo, a resident who works at a family and children therapy center, recently made her open-mike debut at Hip-Hop Tuesdays performing some spoken word. She remembers she was a little hesitant at first to face the crowd.

"I haven't had any live performance experience before," Ventullo said. "I was definitely nervous at first, but when I finally got done, it felt like I was on cloud nine. It was a relief getting over the stage fright that I've always had, and it was nice to finally get out and express myself in an artistic form."

Chambliss has noticed many local rappers stepping out of the woodwork to test the waters of hip-hop and acknowledges the hidden talent that lies in Iowa City.

"The first night we held Hip-Hop Tuesdays, we had a few people come in and do their thing," Chambliss said.

But right as things were wrapping up, Chambliss was approached by a man with the stage name Gravity, whose presence was, so to speak, very down to Earth.

"He literally blew me away with his lyrics and delivery," Chambliss said. "But the best part was is that he's just some local guy who works at a restaurant in downtown Iowa City, so you never know who will come out."

Tyler James is a 23-year-old student and bartender who started out writing rhymes with his friends for fun. But what began as a hobby has slowly become a passion, and James uses Hip-Hop Tuesdays as an opportunity to polish his craft.

"It started with some guys just living together and free styling to some beats for laughs," James said.

"But now I've been learning how to construct hip-hop songs, and I've started a 14-track mix tape, mainly of freestyle rap. Coming in on Tuesday nights to try out some tracks I've written is great, and it's a good place to come out and meet other people who have the same interests in rap as you."


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