Arts & Culture

DDFW Master of the Mic shines a light on North Texas hip-hop

In this Nov. 6, 2015 file photo, host Erykah Badu appears at the 2015 Soul Train Awards in Las Vegas. Badu will help judge the Master of the Mic finale in Dallas Saturday.
In this Nov. 6, 2015 file photo, host Erykah Badu appears at the 2015 Soul Train Awards in Las Vegas. Badu will help judge the Master of the Mic finale in Dallas Saturday. Invision/AP

Fierce competition between Fort Worth, Dallas and Denton is nothing new, especially when it comes to music.

Each city prides itself on its singular talents, but the reality is that all three cities have plenty to celebrate.

Fort Worth-based promoter Callie Dee recognized this, and in May, she began DDFW Master of the Mic, a competition inspired by the likes of American Idol, something pulling everyone together, while also letting each city shine.

The Master of the Mic’s grand finale is set for Saturday at Trees. A trio of celebrity judges — Erykah Badu, Dorrough and the D.O.C. — will be on hand, to crown a winner from the six finalists.

As a testament to her vision and hustle, Dee began courting Badu and the D.O.C. as soon as the initial rounds got underway.

But it was signing Dorrough, best known for his 2009 hit Ice Cream Paint Job, who helped secure the panel of judges.

“Dorrough kind of helped break the ice,” Dee says via email. “Once I got his contract [signed], the other two fell into place a little faster. Having those particular judges there brings a lot of attention to this event. ... The D.O.C. has offered to work with the winner and whichever other artists he likes. That’s huge in and of itself!”

The six finalists vying for a chance to collaborate with the legendary D.O.C. — Alsace Carcione, Madame Mims, Mark Spits, Ritchy Flo, Pudge Brewer and T. Lindsey — were culled over a series of four rounds, from an initial pool of 60 MCs: 20 each from Fort Worth, Dallas and Denton.

Each rapper will have 20 minutes Saturday to perform original material for the audience and the three judges, who will determine the champion.

Said victor goes home with a staggering prize package, which includes guaranteed performance spots at both Oaktopia and 35 Denton in 2016, along with studio time at Green Audio Productions and In Ya Ear Studios, a distribution deal with California-based Urbanlife Distribution, and much more — including the opportunity to be heard in a region teeming with talent.

“It’s a way that people who might not be in the media’s eye can get exposure,” Dee says. “It has been a super-positive experience. ... I’ve really seen the hip-hop scene in the Metroplex come together.”

Dee, who was dubbed the “hip-hop promoting soccer mom” earlier this year by the Observer, plans to make DDFW Master of the Mic an annual event, with 2016’s preliminary rounds set to begin in March: “I might be more strict about who signs up where,” she says. “We have people from Dallas that were in the Fort Worth competition for whatever reasons, and people from Arlington [and] Hurst repping Dallas. I don’t really mind, but the other contestants have voiced their opinions.”

(So, yes, even in a competition giving each city an equal opportunity to impress, there is still jostling for position.)

But geographic squabbles aside, Dee’s ultimate objective is simple: “I’ve seen so much love between these six finalists. People who had never gone to Denton or Fort Worth or Dallas did during this competition. That was one of the main goals — to unite us all under one umbrella of dopeness.”

Preston Jones: 817-390-7713, @prestonjones

DDFW Master of the Mic