WATERVILLE — Central Maine hip-hop is a movement without a home.

The music is here, supporters and participants said today at a show at Head of Falls in Waterville. The styles, the culture and the fans are here, too; but there is no permanent venue for rap or hip-hop artists to perform on a regular basis, they said.

“We’re definitely limited by the venues. There’s not really a venue that we can do regularly all the time,” said Jay Caron, of the two-man group Educated Advocates. “As far as talent level, there’s a lot of people here contributing and working hard at it. There’s a lot of good quality artists, but there’s not enough places in the area to showcase our abilities.”

Caron, 32, and mic partner Mike Be, 26, both of Waterville, were among a handful of hip-hop artists who performed today at the first Kennebec Rap N Rock Music Festival near the Two-Cent Bridge. Proceeds from the show benefited the Domestic Violence Alliance, Student Athletes’ Anti-bullying Community and the Waterville Humane Society, event coordinator Katherine Dall said.

Hip-hop performers today included Educated Advocates, who have just returned from a 18-show national tour; Spose, from Wells, who also tours nationally; Saylove, a female rap artist who grew up in Waterville and now lives in Boston; Indigenous Immigrants; and Jason Lopez, aka Flowpez.

Lopez, 25, of Waterville, said he got started doing hip-hop when he and some friends were “free styling” or improvising snappy poetic rhymes with a beat. He took to the stage as Flowpez three years ago.

Hip-hop is an ever-evolving culture of rap music; break dancing; DJing or scratching vinyl records on turntables; sampling, which is taking segments from other recorded songs; and graffiti as visual art.

“It’s poetry, basically — the good stuff, not the mainstream stuff,” Lopez said. “A lot of these artists are smart and they have a lot of lessons you can learn from them.”

Lessons including raps about domestic violence, bullying and respect for women, said Lopez, who helped organize today’s show.

He said there is a wide gap in the genre between so-called gangster rap, which glorifies gun violence, drugs and gender violence, and the rap with life messages found in Maine. He said many national hip-hop acts are sending the wrong messages to young people — boys with violent images and lyrics and girls with sexual expression that dehumanizes them.

“They promote it to the children, and it’s sad, it’s sad to see,” he said. “They’re selling sex, and they’re selling it to the youth. You have little girls singing that and looking up to them, wanting to be like that.”

He said themes in Maine rap — with several venues in the Portland area, including The Big Easy — are often political, with messages about thinking for oneself and not following the political mainstream.

Waterville’s Mainely Brews also has begun to showcase hip-hop artists, but more places are needed, Lopez said.

“There’s plenty of talent around here. There’s just no venues to actually perform hip-hop around here,” he said. “It needs to change. There’s enough support for it around here, for sure. I hope we can do more stuff like this, especially around Waterville.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
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