Local 412 Celebrates PGH’s Hip Hop Scene with Rhyme Calisthenics Auditions
In 2007, James Brown and Thelonious Stretch heard the cry for a hip hop event that would urge Pittsburgh rappers to be creative, innovative, and have fun with their lyrics. The event came in the form of “Rhyme Calisthenics,” a nationally-recognized game show that draws in the ‘Burgh’s oldest rappers, newest rappers, and everything in between. Eight years later, brand new venue Local 412 is answering the hip hop scene’s cry for a welcoming venue, a gallery to showcase their work, and of course, a place to hold the Rhyme Cal auditions.
“Our mission is to emphasize the fact that hip hop is an art,” Amber of Local 412, Garfield’s newest arts and entertainment venue, told NakYouOut. “A lot of venues in the city aren’t really open to allowing hip hop events in their spaces. We hope to become a hub for these types of events, allowing artists to express themselves and not be restricted based on the genre that they most identify with.”
The venue has opened their doors for the past two Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn, but the March 6 “Rhyme Calisthenics” auditions will be Local 412’s first official event. The all-ages show will begin at 7PM, welcoming walk-in sign-ups to the stage to take a spin on the “Wheel of Skillz.” The infamous wheel prompts participants with one of twelve challenges, ranging from “Old School,” to “Outkast,” to “Crowd Topics.” Four winners, hand-picked by a panel of judges, will be invited to participate in another Rhyme Cal event this spring.
In addition to the fiery rap battle, attendees will have the chance to view artwork created by locals Danielle Robinson, Billy Pilgrim, and Launka Zimeir. Local 412 hopes that their venue will not just be a haven for MC competitions, but a haven for the other three pillars of hip hop as well: DJing, dancing, and graffiti art.
“We hope to become a hub for these types of events, allowing artists to express themselves and not be restricted based on the genre that they most identify with,” Amber said.
Local 412 will welcome all types of art, “as long as they are safe and inclusive,” using Rhyme Cal auditions to kick off this notion.