Scribble Jam, the Midwest’s premier celebration of all things Hip Hop, is officially on hiatus for 2009.
For those not in the know, the yearly fest, which usually straddled a weekend, was held at Annie’s Entertainment Complex on Kellogg Road in the East End and featured DJ competitions, MC battles, b-boys, graffiti artists, breakdancing and beatboxing. This would have been its 13th year of sticking a much-needed dose of Hip Hop culture into Cincinnati’s anemic carotid. So what happened? —-
Founder and organizer Nick Accurso admits there are a variety of factors that played into the decision to shelve the Jam this year.
“Everybody’s grown up," he says. "We’ve all got jobs and families. It started out just being a ton of work, but the bigger it got the harder it was to handle, especially with only five to six people doing everything."
Accurso also expresses some frustration with notoriously stingy and lazy Cincinnati concertgoers: The people who didn’t want to pay $20 at the door, a lot of friends who expected to get in for free and the many folks who would come to him a week after the event and ask, “When’s Scribble Jam happening?” According to Accurso, 50 to 60 percent of the crowd was usually from out of town anyway.
But he says it really comes down to one inconvenient fact: “The money is just not there for sponsorships.”
That’s especially unfortunate for a big show at a big venue (one with both indoor and outdoor stages) that's become something of a Cincinnati staple since its inception in 1996. Scribble Jam has been ground zero for MC battles among luminaries such as Sage Francis, Eminem, and local hero Doseone and one that at its peak in 2005 hit multiple U.S. cities and was a touring sensation. Accurso’s fest also enjoyed international success with satellite Scribble Jams in Australia and London.
But despite the fact that this Hip Hop institution will be sadly absent this August, there is one major silver lining: Scribble Jam isn’t totally going M.I.A.
“We’re thinking about doing it next year,” Accurso says, “as long as we don’t lose money. If we could just sell it to one major sponsor — like Scion — the admission would be a lot cheaper.”
So while it looks like we’re in for a rhyme-free stretch, there's still hope for Hip Hop on the ’Nati’s horizon.