Brothers in Arms: Sampling Asheville’s hip-hop scene

Some people use the radio to broadcast news. Others use it to keep some of the spotlight on the oldies they grew up on. Brothers Davaion and Heath Bristol use the radio to actively strengthen Asheville’s hip-hop scene.

The brothers host the Open Door Radio Show, a hip-hop show featuring exclusively local and regional artists, on Asheville Free Media. The Bristols have an especially large stake in bolstering the Asheville hip-hop scene, as Davaion raps under the name “Big Dave” both solo and as part of local crew Deadstock Clique while Heath raps as “Beef.”

“The radio show is really not a platform for me or for us. It’s a platform for everybody. But it’s hard for me to gauge it because I’m a part of this scene, so I should play my music,” Davaion says. “I try not to overplay, but I will play my songs. But I’ll play everybody else’s.”

Although they have made strides in the Asheville hip-hop community since the late ‘90s, the brothers had never attempted a radio program. But with their connections to local artists, taking advantage of the opportunity was a no-brainer.

“We’ve been dealing with music all our lives. We come from a musical family, really, because everybody either sang in the choir or played piano or played an instrument — nothing professional, but music has always always been part of our lives,” Davaion says. “So we got that opportunity and we saw that it could be a really good platform for people like us who like music, but don’t necessarily have an outlet.”

The Bristols, Asheville natives, not only use their deft networking skills and connections to promote local artists, but to give aid to the community at large that raised them.

“We’re trying to use it as a platform to do stuff in the community,” Heath says. “We were born and raised out here, so we know the good and the bad. We’re trying to use this platform to sponsor coat drives or nutrition programs.”

Of course, that’s not to discredit the altruistic nature of the Open Door Radio Show’s musical aspects. The Bristols realize that broadcasting up-and-coming local artists not only expands their potential audience, but also encourages and inspires them to hone their craft.

“I could see a dude at the store and then later on that night give him an opportunity that could alter his life or influence him. That’s power to me. And it’s real — it inspires him,” Heath says. “Somebody who might have been in a dark situation with you — I can expose them to the world.”

Heath, the younger brother, projects a great deal of bright-eyed idealism, expressing his optimistic views of the future and extolling the virtues of God and family. Davaion, though certainly a believer in these same values, seems a little more business-minded. He and the other members of Deadstock Clique network constantly, both online and in person, with local artists, finding ways to promote tunes and book shows.

“We’re trying to make it a little more profitable for everybody, so having 10 or 12 acts on a bill, nobody makes money,” Davaion says. “That was the way we were looking at it, but we’re starting to kind of think differently, because that’s how you get the people in the building, especially for local shows.”

Davaion’s savvy and Heath’s zeal have manifested in yet another backbone for the Asheville hip-hop scene: Out Tha Gutter Entertainment. The company functions partially as a record label and partially as a promotions firm, sharing local rappers’ tracks and videos (many of which are filmed by scene veteran Hosea Jackson) on ReverbNation and Soundcloud. It’s yet another way in which the brothers help to perpetuate the local scene.

“I give a shout-out to everybody who’s in the local scene. I know all of those guys and I salute them,” Davaion says. “Everybody is working hard at making it look good for the scene. I’m glad that we’re getting some attention.”

“Some attention” might be an understatement. According to Davaion, the show had 750 listeners in August and well over 500 last month. And because Asheville FM broadcasts over the Internet, the Open Door Radio Show has reached, according to Heath, anywhere from Compton to Denmark. With the station currently applying for an actual FM license, the brothers’ vision for local hip-hop can only broaden.

The Open Door Radio Show broadcasts every Sunday night from 10 p.m. to midnight. To stream the show live or listen to archived shows, click here.

Davaion Bristol performs with Deadstock Clique and Heath Bristol performs as Beef at the Emerald Lounge on Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5. For more information, visit


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