Tampa expat Prince Golden talks Bay area rap scene ahead of Hiphopalooza 6

The local hip-hop showcase has never been pay-to-play.

click to enlarge Mateo Henley — AKA Prince Golden — who picks acts for Hiphopalooza, which is happening once again at Crowbar in Ybor City, Florida on November 17, 2018. - Michael M. Sinclair
Michael M. Sinclair
Mateo Henley — AKA Prince Golden — who picks acts for Hiphopalooza, which is happening once again at Crowbar in Ybor City, Florida on November 17, 2018.

Prince Golden has no problem with letting an artist know that they won’t be on the bill for Hiphopalooza.

“I’m straight up and down, no time for the runaround,” he told CL. As frontman for since-exported Tampa rap-and-rock hybrid Samurai Shotgun, Golden’s lyrical attack and hyper-aggressive flow are enough to turn heads, but his onstage behavior (picture dreads flying as he literally dangles from the rafters) has made Samurai Shotgun sets the stuff of legend and helped earn the band — which includes DJ Qeys, guitarist Tyler Mudler, bassist drummer Jovan Lecaro and Bryant Harp on bass — spots on the star-studded bills of festivals like Afropunk in New York City.

Hiphopalooza’s format flirted with national acts in 2016, but Prince Golden’s now six-year-old celebration of Bay area hip-hop refocused on home last year and is approaching fabled status in the community. In 2018, Golden has assembled nearly two dozen acts, including some of his deep, online finds (Swavor), bucket list-ers (Introvert), surprises (Ayo Mama), Bay area lifers who never get enough love (Prophit, Mic Deluxx), and one R&B act, too (Svnoir).

Golden spent some time talking about the methodology behind selecting a lineup, what it means to grind for the scene and why his party will never, ever, be pay-to-play. Read our Q&A and listen to Hiphopalooza 6 artists below.

Hiphopalooza 6. Sat., Nov. 17, 7 p.m. $10. Crowbar, 1812 N. 17th St., Ybor City. crowbarybor.com.

At this point you’ve been at it long enough to experience some serious highs and lows. Could you talk about the peaks and valleys of the journey that’s been Hiphopalooza?

For the most part is has been nothing but fun, but as a promoter-curator you will always have ups and downs. Usually it’s competing with bigger national acts that everyone wants to go to. Overall, the turnout every year is phenomenal.

How have the elements of the music scene in Atlanta complemented your approach to Tampa’s scene and vice versa?

Atlanta is a powerhouse and mecca of music. All I can say is that there are many moving parts, and if people learn to network and open their minds, then they can prosper there.

Hiphopalooza lineups have always featured the best hip-hop happening in Tampa Bay. Going to shows seems to be the best way, but what’s your approach to staying ahead of the curve?

I love seeing artists live, almost anyone can make a song and put it on the internet, so I want to see stage presence and how artists interact with a crowd — that’s big for me. There are also many artists I haven’t seen live, however, and I love giving them a chance so we see what they’ve got.

Is it hard for you to tell people “No” when they ask to be on a Hiphopalooza bill?

Naw — I’m straight up and down, no time for the runaround.

As far as your own tastes and interests, what makes one artist more appealing than another?

A lot of these artists have attended Hiphopalooza as spectators, so most ask me in advance, and I’ll book them. I love every kind of of hip-hop and rap, and this festival is for every genre of hip-hop in the Bay area. I’ll come across some artists online, some of them are through word of mouth, it all depends.

What would you say to local artists who want advice on how to get embedded and participate in the scene?

Grind as much as possible and you will be noticed. Put out quality material, build your fanbase, learn to network — that is so important in these times. Also, don’t be a dickhead to venues, staff, or people period.

What’s the post-mortem on each Hiphopalooza look like, and what kinds of hopes do you have for the event going forward?

I hope it continues to grow, have multiple stages with some bigger names. Nothing crazy like Rolling Loud though — shout-out to Wilson and Tariq (Tampa natives who have grown their own Florida-based fest into a global commodity).

Is Hiphopalooza a “pay to play” event? What’s your opinion on those?

I will never do an event for pay-to-play, I understand the mechanics of it, but I hate it, and most pay-to-play venues or promoters are scumbags.

Top five Hiphopalooza sets of all-time?

Ah man, why you gotta do this to me? In no particular order. Deezy Wee the Reaper: He just has bangin’ music, he had a hot single at the time, brought, like, 20 people on stage during his set, and everyone was rapping the lyrics — even the crowd. It was truly awesome.

Queen of Ex: If you’ve never seen her live, I’m sorry. She’s so passionate and will have you bopping your head hard, even if you don’t want to.

Ex Nihilo: These young emcees are the future. They’ve got to be, maybe, 20 and 21 years old. They are a duo that is a mix of The Pharcyde, OutKast, and A Tribe Called Quest all in one. They definitely need to break outta Tampa in the next year.

DJ Qeys: I put Qeys on to do a solo set because people need to see and respect what a real DJ does. I was watching people’s faces from the side as they were in awe — he always makes me proud when he’s on the decks.

Jon Ditty: He’s such a great performer. Even if you don’t like his taste when it comes to the lyrical complexity of rhymes, he will deliver. It’s impossible to catch everything he’s saying, but the way that he’s himself on stage is as original as it gets.

MACIBISON A large collective that deserves its due.
SAM E HUES He’s had an awesome year, a friend of many years and why not end his great year at Hiphopalooza?
PROPHIT Local legend.
VERN SR. Smooth operator.
AYO MAMA Fun-size, fun-loving artist.
B. POPES His bars crack me, and the crowd, up every time.
EURO TRILL Hard worker.
DJ QEYS Illest on turntables.
SHE.GO Love her energy.
YOUNG 40 Bars n beats, beats n bars.
ALEC BURNRIGHT Turn-up king.
SVNOIR I always have one R&B artist on the fest to switch it up, and she's more than ready.
GIANNO CASSANOVA Heard his material and wanna see what he's got.
MEGAN OH! Saw her live once, and put her on.
SWAVOR Found him online through a friend.
RICHIE GUAPO He’s got this single I'm really diggin’.
EL PRESIDENTE Has been grindin too long not to show love.
OL MANOLO Never knew he was a rapper ‘til some odd months ago — let's run it.
MIC DELUXX I wanna see him serve tacos while he's rappin'.
INTROVERT Dropped a new project and been trying to get him on for three years.
LUNDY A great passionate opener for the whole ‘palooza.
DJ WALLY CLARK He’s been rockin with me almost since the start, that's the homie.

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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