by Daniele Spagnolo
“6 Bars or Die” is boldly painted on the main wall of Pipe Dreamz LLC. Pipe Dreamz LLC is a space that Ace, the owner, Gruvye Drew, a music producer, and K Kali, an artist, use to promote an online clothing store, musical venue, and uniquely decorated hang out spot for local artists. New artists that come into Pipe Dreamz, located on the 800 block of N Howard St., informally spit six bars of freestyle rhymes as an initiation to hang out with the regulars. I was able to watch and enjoy as the members of NuRennaisance, a collective of artistic talents that are rooted in different inspirations of hip hop, creatively and intricately flowed their way into this “hip-hop Starbucks,” as Ace explains it. Local artists are welcome to come in and use the space in a way similar to Starbucks, offering Wi-Fi and space to study or work, Ace says “You don’t have to have money to free your mind.”
Here, NuRennaisance meets up to prepare for their debut performance on April 21st at 8 PM at Pipe Dreamz (tickets $5 at door). The show is going to introduce their collective, musically based on rap and hip-hop influences from 90’s to modern, trip-hop, as well as a worthy blend of alternative and pop-rap. NuRenaissance is not only making a statement by combining their craft with variety and vigor, they plan on making an impact that goes beyond headphones.
Planet Mars, or PM, a freestyle artist and community organizer, started this collective with more than just performing music in mind. He has a positive vision for the groups’ impact on Baltimore. He describes NuRennaisance as a group about community and empowerment. “I want Baltimore to become the next hot hub for the world,” PM states with passion in his voice. He explains his vision for revamping the city to match or exceed the reputations that Chicago, L.A., NYC, etc. have in terms of the music industry. PM bridges his aspirations for the city of Baltimore with his hopes for the people of Baltimore with his emphasis on charity work. NuRennaissance is currently working to collaborate with women’s shelters and Baltimore related charities to further push towards positivity in the community.
The artists that make up NuRennaissance are as follows: Planet Mars (PM), Wayne Collins, Jay Swann, D-Low, Blaze da Misphit, Emellodee, Apex, and Kazi. The stories of their connections are filled with previous collectives that go along with the trial and error of music groups, however some met out of pure fate. Apex, beat maker and rapper, Jay Swann, music producer, and PM are childhood friends from Baltimore and have been making music together for years. Wayne Collins, rapping since 2008, partnered with D-Low in Baltimore City, and met PM at a cancelled Beet Trips show. These three artists were able to transform a disappointing evening into a lasting musical unit by collaborating on coincidence. Emellodee, singer and rapper from Baltimore, met Wayne Collins while they worked at Sam’s Club together. After an instant musical connection, they have been freestyling, writing, and producing together ever since.
Blaze da Misfit, from Michigan, has music production in his blood. His father was a well-known DJ in the 80’s while working with MC Proof, a Michigan legend. PM ran into Blaze, heard his recent music, and asked him to come on board. Finally, Kazi, originally from Kenya, recognized PM, Apex, and Jay Swann from their music while he was working at Chick-fila. PM, Apex, and Jay Swann came in for a sandwich and left with a new poet and musician to add to the collective.
Their performance will be one to remember as it marks the integration of many different backgrounds, ages, places, and styles for the first time under the NuRenaissance name. The group wants people to come out and experience some “dope music and good vibes,” as Kazi explains it. Jay Swann described how necessary this kind of diversity and versatility is to rap music as a whole. Wayne Collins made the point of accessibility for audience members. No matter one’s musical preference, there is room for anyone here, he said. He went on to say, “the music is as diverse as the collective.” Blaze da Misphit reached out to other artists and announced the show as a chance for progress and openness. He wants people to use this time to network with other artists. PM reminded fans and audience members that this is a collective that inspires all kinds of art, including visual. As Emellodee, who is also a painter puts it, “We make music, but our art doesn’t stop there.” For NuRenaissance, the mission never stops at music.