“I was born and raised in the 828” is the chant that erupts from Dem Carolina Boiz’s track “Born and Raised.”
It’s an unlikely proclamation: Western North Carolina is known for a lot of things, but its up-and-coming hip-hop scene is not one of them.
“All of the communities [in Asheville] have their specific rappers, but they don’t know where to go to get quality recordings, and there aren’t any venues [for performing],” says Bingo da Doughboi, who, along with Big V tha Badguy, makes up Dem Carolina Boiz, a rap duo originally from Asheville but now based in the Washington, D.C., area.
But the change of address shouldn’t fool anyone: Dem Carolina Boiz are still proud of their roots. In fact, while they were once chided for their strong Southern drawls, now Bingo and Big V wear the remarks like a badge of pride.
“People ended up calling us ‘those Carolina boys’ [because of our accents], so we just went with it,” says Big V.
But it’s not just the molasses-thick accents and laidback demeanor that remind listeners of the duo’s hometown—it’s the spirit of their music that’s so distinctively Asheville. Combining the leisurely sounds of Southern hip-hop artists with the witty wordplay of their Northern neighbors, Dem Carolina Boiz believe the diversity of Asheville has helped them establish themselves.
“Asheville has a very diverse culture—which is a good thing. I think that being diverse helps [hip-hop] culture grow, and if it’s not growing, it’s stagnant,” says Bingo.
Asheville does claim its share of hip-hop artists, from the funk-influenced GFE to the smooth, New York sound of local transplant Breeze Evahflowin. But neither of those groups approaches the frenetic, stop-start beats that have become a trademark of Dem Carolina Boiz.
“Our sound is pretty much heavy bass, up-tempo, real hype and crunk,” notes Big V.
For those not in the know, crunk is the club-influenced sound that has helped put Atlanta and Memphis on the map – although Dem Carolina Boiz’ sound is “different from a lot of rap music you hear that’s coming out of Atlanta or Memphis,” says Big V. “We call it Country Crazy Crunk.”
While much of hip-hop relies on wordplay and languid beats, crunk is based around chants and repetitive rhythms designed for one purpose: to whip crowds into a frenzy.
But Bingo says that exciting one crowd is too small a goal. His ultimate aim with Dem Carolina Boiz is to bring together an entire region—or, to paraphrase George Clinton: part of a nation, under a groove.
“We’re trying to bring states together and network with artists and promoters. We’re trying to show that we have connections within the region and build up something like what you’d see in Atlanta or in New York,” Bingo offers.
With those lofty aspirations comes another goal: to show local clubs that hip-hop and rap music is a viable entertainment option in Asheville.
“There were [local rappers] before us, but they faded away after realizing how hard it was [to make it in Asheville],” says Big V. So the Boiz are using their homecoming show as a chance to spotlight other locals on the rise.
These are hip-hop artists who “haven’t really gotten a chance to perform in Asheville,” explains Big V.
Being harbingers of a larger scene isn’t their only mission. The duo also hopes to flood the marketplace with their music. Says V: “We have a mix tape that will be out [in July] called Land of the Lost Souls, and we are working on our next album right now.”
Keeping with the flavor of their hometown, the album will be titled Moonshine & Barbecue.
That, he says, “is about as Carolina as it gets.”
[Jason Bugg is a freelance writer based in Asheville.]
Dem Carolina Boiz with Ghost, Citee Boi & Loonatyk, plus special guests The Shiloh Corner Boys, play The Orange Peel (101 Biltmore Ave.) on Saturday, July 7. 9 p.m. $12/$14. 225-5851.