Meet Mr. Smith

Mr. Smith (pictured) had people talking. In a room full of talent, he managed to outshine the competition — despite a major technical malfunction. The rapper only performed two songs but that's all it took to show he's an artist on the rise, one that could help put "813" rhymers on the map.

The local hip-hop scene was in full force last night at the fourth annual Tampa Music Conference. Rappers, singers, DJs, producers and several camera crews congregated at a place called The Event Factory on West Hillsborough.

The event focused mainly on a two-hour panel discussion that was moderated by CL staffer Durium "Deacon" Jones and featured B.E.T. on-air personality Mad Linx, Hieroglyphics crew member Domino and DJ Sandman ( The Beat), among others.

Bookending the discussion were two-song performances by six area artists. Following a solid showing by Bradenton crew Geno & Skunk Boogie, Mr. Smith grabbed the mic and strutted center stage. A sampled film score began to play but the CD skipped before the rapper could deliver his rhymes. Perfectly timed as if planned (but it wasn't), co-host Mingle Mixx started beat-boxing and Smith unleashed a flawless rendition of his cut "Indiana Jones," actually making his impromptu live, sans backing music version, more engaging than the one he recorded.

The sound problem was corrected for the second and final number, "Fresh White T," which featured a guest spot from Acafool, the Tampa rapper who had a huge smash last year with the novelty tune "Hatablockas."

A member of Mr. Smith's crew later promised me the local luminary would be seen on B.E.T. in the near future.

We'll keep you posted.

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