by Ray Roa
"[We] schedule our event to end between 11 and midnight, so we can all get to ODS, discuss the show, have beers and support our DJs," Mike Mass told CL in a message, "it's a family."
Mass, a 25-year-old Tampa-based emcee, is one half of the team that curates Wine & Rhyme (Tyrone Beyobe, a Tampa producer, is the other half), and he puts emphasizes the fact that nothing he does would be possible without the support of the hip hop community. Justin Lyman (aka DJ Casper), who mans the helms at ODS alongside DJ Lesage, couldn't agree more, telling CL that Wine & Rhyme is "essential" to the growing hip hop scene.
Casper perennially has his hands full with club dates in addition to a house DJ gig with the Tampa Bay Lightning, among other endeavors. He also has the three-year anniversary of ODS coming up on May 25, but he's quick to heap praise on Mass and the unique event he's trying to grow downtown.
"[It's] completely different than what anybody else has done or thought of doing before. Myself and LeSage [definitely] support anything that Mike does," Casper wrote in a message to CL, adding that events like Wine & Rhyme and ODS benefit the scene as a whole as well by garnering some national recognition for Tampa.
"There is a lot of love and talent in this city," he wrote, "and Mike is my favorite rapper in the city — yeah I said it!!!"
That love will spread to the new plate of talent scheduled for Wine & Rhyme No. 2 this upcoming Sun., April 27. Last month's edition was heavy on hip hop with a touch of live art, fashion, and comedy, but Mass brings a hint of singer-songwriter soul to the next installment by adding Jariah Higgins to the bill.
Higgins is a 21-year-old Tampa native whose husky, grown-man voice completely juxtaposes his baby face. The breadth of his material seems to utilize looping on cover songs (he does a good Michael Jackson and Ed Sheeran in addition to more traditional singer-songwriter/Top 40 fare). He even Jonny Lang-ed Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." Original material isn't online, but we'll patiently wait to see how his talent pans out. In the meantime check out Higgins' YouTube channel.
The rest of Wine & Rhyme's April 27 lineup includes emcees Dynasty, Annex, and Queen of Ex alongside art by St. Pete graffiti artist Nex, fashion from DMT Clothing and comedy from the hilarious Joe Riga (seriously, follow the guy on Twitter). Cover is $15 and includes a glass of house wine. Doors open at 7 p.m. Crumb & Cork is located at 501 N. Franklin St. in downtown Tampa. More information is available via Facebook. Advance tickets are available here.